A new committee is sounding off about the "path" Grove City is taking.
The Grove City Trail Committee held their first public meeting on April 22 at City Hall. Their goal is to address multi-use trails in the area and get the public involved in the process. It is an advocacy group of citizens that aims to address alternative means of transportation and recreation. Most of the residents in attendance were recreational cyclists.
Kim Conrad, director of the Grove City Parks and Recreation Department led the meeting.
"I see good things and I see deficiencies in the Grove City trail system," said Conrad. "I do see a lot of potential."
The group discussed current and future trails. The multi-use trails are used for bicycling, rollerblading or walking.
Conrad said two areas that need to be addressed in the near future are Orders Road and Holton Road.
"Orders Road is a high priority area," Conrad remarked. "It is dangerous for pedestrians and terrible to negotiate on a bicycle."
She explained that the city has engineers studying Orders Road for the potential of a multi-use path. They would have to look at the homes involved and ditches. Some homeowners would have to be willing to give up their easement or piece of property.
"We’re hoping something happens in a year or two," said Conrad.
There is a multi-use trail down Buckeye Parkway but when users turn onto Holton Road, the trail abruptly stops. It picks up again down the road, but on the other side of the street.
"This is a high priority area because there are schools right there," Conrad explained. "It’s important for the kids to be able to walk or ride their bikes to school."
Buckeye Woods and Jackson Middle School are on Holton Road.
Conrad said there are some homeowners on Holton Road that are reluctant to deal with government and give up some property. The city has asked the homeowners for a 10-foot strip of their right-of-way to connect the broken path. She explained that the city is in the negotiation process with the homeowners.
"I am hoping for action on the matter this year," she noted.
Conrad also said the trail committee would like to see a path connect from Windsor Park to Fryer Park. That path would have to cut through the Hoover Park subdivision. When that complex was developed, there were no plans to install a bike trail.
Conrad said, "We are trying to work through that."
In 2004, Grove City Council passed legislation that requires housing developments to include multi-use paths in their development plan. Conrad said many of the new development’s residents see now went through council prior to 2004.
While many residents use the multi-purpose trails for recreational cycling and walking, some people rely on them to get to a destination. Grove City resident Lindsay Taliaferro rides his bike everyday to work, in downtown Columbus.
"It takes me about a half an hour," he said.
He believes the city needs to address the U.S. Route 62 and Interstate 270 interchange.
"It is very dangerous," said Taliaferro.
He explained that in other cities in the country, they have a white line that separates traffic from a bike path. He said Grove City should do something similar or put up signs so motorists know it is a heavily cycled area.
"We need something that tells people ‘this is the place for cars and this is the place for bicycles,’" Taliaferro remarked.
Conrad said the committee would look into the suggestions.
"More people are riding their bikes to work with the rising gas prices," Conrad mentioned. "Safety is something we need to address."
A regional system
Conrad said in the long-term, she would like to see Grove City connect to a regional trail system that not only goes through central Ohio, but the entire state.
One suggestion would expand current Grove City trails up along the Scioto River, through Berliner Park and all the way up to Delaware County.
"A regional system is a huge ship to turn," said Conrad. "It’s not going to happen overnight."
She explained that the trail committee would like to meet with representatives from the City of Columbus, Metro Parks and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) about Grove City’s role in a regional trail.
The trail committee would like to get the city, Jackson Township and the South-Western City School District on board with future plans. They also welcome community input.
A parks and recreation employee will either walk or ride along all the local trails to grade them and see where areas need attention. The committee also discussed the possibility of enacting an "adopt a trail" program, where a resident or group volunteers to keep the trail
There has been no funding for any of these projects at this time.
The next Grove City Trail Committee meeting is scheduled for Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.