(Posted March 22, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
There’s a gap in Madison County’s portion of the Ohio To Erie Trail, and the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails (FMCPT) is raising money to narrow it.
The Ohio To Erie Trail is a 320-mile cross-state recreational trail that runs through Madison County. Most of it is on separate paved trails, running along abandoned railroad beds. In some places, users must use city streets or rural roads.
One of those places is a 1.13-mile stretch between Maple and Midway streets in downtown London. The Madison County commissioners recently purchased land that makes it possible to close part of that gap, between Maple and Walnut streets.
FMCPT volunteers and county engineer crews have cleared brush and trees from the area needed for the trail extension. The engineer estimates the cost to construct the extension is $78,000.
FMCPT, a non-profit that helps to maintain and improve the trail, has earmarked $20,000 of its own funds for construction. The Ohio To Erie Trail Fund board is donating 10 percent of the cost, $7,800. Various individuals have donated $1,372.
To raise the remaining funds, FMCPT is looking to secure grant funding and more donations. The group recently applied for a Doppelt Grant through the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, asking for a minimum of $20,000.
“However, Rails-To-Trails said over 200 organizations applied for the $100,000 pot of money. Only four will get grants,” said Wayne Roberts, FMCPT executive director.
Grant winners will be announced June 3. In the meantime, FMCPT is soliciting businesses and individuals for donations.
To make a donation to the “trail gap” project, make checks out to FMCPT, mark “construction” on the memo line, and mail to P.O. Box 308, London, OH 43140. To make a donation online using a credit card or PayPal, go to www.fmcpt.com.
In other news, FMCPT is gearing up for the ribbon-cutting for Ohio’s portion of U.S. Bike Route 50, which when complete will run from California to Washington D.C. USBR50 runs through 11 counties in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Transportation chose Madison County to stage the state’s official ribbon-cutting. The event is set for 11 a.m. April 8 at the Prairie Grass Trailhead behind the Madison County Senior Center, 280 W. High St., London. The public is invited to attend. A short bike ride and refreshments are planned.