(Posted April 22, 2016)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
It took nearly no time at all for the first cyclist to pitch a tent at the new primitive camping area along the bike path in London.
The Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails (FMCPT) opened the site, located at the Prairie Grass trailhead behind the Madison County Senior Center on West High Street, on April 16. The opening coincided with the annual National Opening Day for Trails.
Steve Snyder, a cyclist from Newark, was the first person to make use of the site, staying overnight April 16 as part of a bicycle trip to and from Xenia along the Ohio To Erie Trail. The site features two 10×10-foot raised tent platforms and room for four additional tents on the ground.
FMCPT, an all-volunteer non-profit group, cleared and prepared the area earlier this month. They are asking users to fill out a survey about their experience. The information will help the group to determine whether or not more camping sites are warranted along the trail, as well as what amenities users prefer.
Snyder praised the site’s restroom facilities, water availability, and shelter house. He suggested that FMCPT look into installing an adirondack-style shelter to better protect campers from the elements. He also suggested installation of a more direct path from the camping area to the restrooms.
There is no charge to use the site, though donations are accepted. Snyder donated $10 and said he would recommend the site to other cyclists, said Wayne Roberts, FMCPT executive director.
The Ohio To Erie Trail is a multi-purpose trail that runs between Cincinnati and Cleveland. According to Roberts, camping facilities are all but non-existent along the trail. London’s trial site is among the first.
Opening Day for Trails
“We had a fair number of cyclists who went through town,” Roberts said of Opening Day for Trails.
FMCPT set up welcome stations at the Coffee Peddler on South Main Street and at the trailheads at the senior center and off of Maple Street. The set up tables outside the coffee shop, gave away fudge samples from Fine Designs & Interiors and candy from the Firefly Sweet Shoppe. To promote a sidewalk café atmosphere, they decorated with flowers on loan from London Florist. Phat Daddy’s Pizza gave away treat bags, which also included information about the restaurant, at both trailheads.
“The idea was to get businesses working together on a project like this that benefits all of them,” Roberts said.
Mike Michaels, owner of the Coffee Peddler and an FMCPT board member, said he did 65 transactions at his shop that day, compared to his usual 30.
As part of his work toward a master’s degree in city planning, Ohio State Univer-sity student Matt Dean wants to develop a plan to connect the two sections of Lon-don’s bike path through downtown. Cur-rently, trail users must use city streets to get through downtown.
Roberts will meet with Dean on April 30 and introduce him to city officials and Madison County Chamber of Commerce representatives. Dean works as an intern for the city of Westerville.
For more about the local trail, go to www.fmcpt.com.