Dec 29, 2013

‘Local ownership’ making the trail a reality

BY BOB ROBINSON
ASSOC. EDITOR
GETTYSBURG – “Local communities take ownership of the trail” was the recurring theme from Roger Van Frank, director of the Darke County Park District.

The ‘trail’ is the bike path currently running from Bradford, through Gettysburg to Arcanum-Bears Mill Road. The goal is to have it going from Bradford on the east to Union City on the west.

“Local ownership,” Van Frank repeated. “We receive grant money from the Clean Ohio Trail Fund that requires a local match. That match can come from cash, personnel and labor.”

The county parks director noted while there were hundreds of monetary contributors of $5, $10, $50 or more, Second National, Greenville National and Greenville Federal Banks have contributed in excess of $20,000 over the last four years. The partnership with Darke County Engineer Jim Surber and his employees has been a major factor in the ongoing success of the project.

Van Frank noted the support of ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) Director Jim Zehringer when he was State Representative.

“I approached Jim first and showed him the ‘grand scheme’ of the project,” he said. “He was all for it. And so were Tom Roberts, Keith Faber (State Senators) and Jim Buchy (State Representative). More recently Buchy, Rep. Richard Adams and Sen. Bill Beagle have also been supportive. The townships and communities have been supportive. Grants are continually researched and written through the Phoenix Committee of the Friends of Darke County Parks.

“There are many individuals who have made this path a contribution priority but don’t want to be recognized. And we’ve had hundreds of volunteers work on the initial ‘scrubbing’ of the trail… literally thousands of hours of volunteer work.”

He added the village of Gettysburg donated a section of land from the old Petersime Incubators building for a parking lot for people using the trail. The Ohio Department of Transportation; especially the local ODOT have been “great” as well…

“Local communities are taking ownership.”

The path so far goes from Bradford through Gettysburg, crosses U.S. Rt. 36 over the Mill Bridge, then to Hahn Road to Spidel Road, then to Arcanum Bears Mill Road.

“The total marked trail to date is 8.2 miles,” he said.

Phase 3 was approved in October. Contracts will be in hand by the end of January for $255,000. This phase will go from Arcanum Bears Mill Road to the entrance of Greenville Industrial Park.

The next phase will take the trail across county parks and city property to Ohio Street. The District recently got an easement from the Darke County Commissioners and has put a request into the city for a bike lane through the Industrial Park. Van Frank thought it would probably be on the City Council agenda the first of the year. The District and the City will be co-authoring this grant with Surber and the City’s Planning and Zoning engineer Chad Henry providing the ‘in kind’ efforts.

Ohio Street connects to Alice Bish Park, Greenville Creek Trail. According to Van Frank, the goal will be to work with the city park to complete the trail to Parks District property.

“The balance of the route to Union City is on track,” he added, “but hasn’t happened yet.”

Grants still have to be written and approved. Van Frank noted it takes eight months to write and get an approval on a grant but it takes 8-10 days to construct a mile of trail.

“I can’t stress enough the buy-in from local communities. When they see that in Columbus it adds points to the application. Thank you!”

Darke County Parks Director Roger Van Frank shows off the stretch of the bike path leading east to Bradford from Gettysburg. He said the only way this could have happened is through local ownership of the project.

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