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Momentum picks up for valley trails network
Momentum picks up for valley trails network
By JOAN DEMIRJIAN
A network of trails in the Chagrin Valley could someday link people and resources from one community to another. That is the goal of the Chagrin Falls region alternate transportation study.
Two public meetings have been held, and the final one will be at 7 p.m. July 6 at Chagrin Falls High School, 400 E. Washington St.
The group includes Chagrin Falls, South Russell, Moreland Hills, Bentleyville, Orange, South Russell Multipurpose Trail Foundation Inc., Cleveland Metroparks and Geauga Park District.
A $68,000 grant is being used for the study. Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is supplying 80 percent of the grant, and the rest is from money collected from the stakeholders.
The study will be completed in August or September, Steve Latkovic, president of the South Russell Multipurpose Trail Foundation, said.
"We are co-sponsors and part of the stakeholders' committee," Mr. Latkovic said. "The process is to understand where the trails will go, what types of trails they will be and a rough estimate of their cost."
Behnke Associates Inc., of Cleveland, is the design consultant and has submitted a preliminary concept plan.
The meeting July 6 will cover the final concept, as well as funding opportunities and cost estimates, Mr. Latkovic said.
Matthew Hils, consultant with Behnke Associates, said the latest plan showed a concept of where the trails and bike routes would go in the area. "We asked for opinions, and we'll show a plan based on comments," he said.
"We'll have a list of recommendations on which trails and bike lanes should be implemented," he said. "We will evaluate them based on who will use those trails, lanes or routes."
Chagrin Falls resident Gregory Hopkins is chairman of an ad hoc biking and hiking committee assembled by Chagrin Falls Mayor Thomas Brick.
"I couldn't be more satisfied with the level of analysis regarding the study area by Behnke Associates and the recommendations for improvements and additions for all-purpose trails and new trails," Mr. Hopkins said.
"We're going to have safer routes in Chagrin Falls and in the study area," he said. "The next meeting will be the final presentation of additions and new trails. It represents the culmination of the study.
"I've been impressed with the level of support and participation throughout the process by a wide and divergent group of citizens," Mr. Hopkins said. They represent walkers and bikers of all ages who are very interested in the healthful aspects of the activities.
People have taken time out of their lives to participate and they are interested in the overall livability of the Chagrin Valley area, he said. "It's very positive, and this is a catalyst to a long-range plan."
Mr. Latkovic said the effort is being driven by elected officials and the public at large, which have been very supportive. "There is a movement in the Chagrin Valley to increase our quality of life and there is general support from the residents. And it doesn't bind anyone to anything."
An all-purpose trail is a paved trail, separate and offset from the road, while a bike lane would be an addition to the existing roadway. The third option is a shared road bikeway. It is simply a sign that bikers use the road and it does not involve improvements to the road.
Each community would be responsible for implementation of the plan within its borders.
Paying for the trails is still in question, Mr. Latkovic said. This study does not go after any money, but identifies sources. It will be up to each community to pursue funding, possibly through trail grants and private donations.
The South Russell Multipurpose Trail Foundation has been set up as a nonprofit organization in order to accept private donations to limit the use of government money, Mr. Latkovic said.
The foundation is planning an all-purpose trail out of Chagrin Falls on Bell Road to Silver Springs and a bike lane for the remainder of South Russell.
The road would have to be widened 4 to 5 feet on both sides of Bell Road for a bike lane. An all-purpose trail would be 3 to 5 feet off the edge of the road and on one side.
"We're proposing an all-purpose trail on Bell, east to Silver Springs," Mr. Latkovic said. Further east, it would be difficult for an all-purpose lane so the trail would more likely be a bike lane, he said.
The goal in South Russell is to make it safe for everyone to get to community resources, Mr. Latkovic said. "It's not just to get to the parks," he said.
Trails could be used by residents to ride or walk to get to the Geauga Fresh Farmers Market at South Russell Village Hall. "It is broader than parks and simply recreation," he said.
Many people in the Chagrin Valley are health minded, family oriented, and they like recreation, Mr. Laytkovic said. "They generally support the trails efforts," he said.
"We will have to deal with the issue of being in front yards," Mr. Latkovic said. But they have to look first at what is wanted. He has talked with people on Bell Road, "and most people want it and are supportive in general. The communities have to determine if they want to move forward.
"By and large, people are in favor of these things," he said. Trails that would give people access to Chagrin Falls would help the village's economic base, he said.
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