Rec trail vision hinges on ODNR grant

By Jason Hawk -

Imagine 10-foot-side bike and running trails stretching through the center of Amherst.

That vision might become a reality within the next few years if the city can lock down about $200,000 in state funding.

City council is expected as soon as Monday to direct mayor Mark Costilow and safety-service director John Jeffreys to apply for an Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant. The deadline to apply is March 1, so officials must act quickly.

Bramhall Engineering has created a plan for an asphalt recreational path. It would go from the Beaver Creek Reservation Metro Park to the Five Points intersection downtown, connecting with Sipple Avenue on its way to the Amherst Steele High School football and track complex.

Councilman Joe Miller noted that at the Beaver Creek park the trail would connect with others leading to the Hollstein Reservation and up into Lorain. The pathway would also be perfect for Comets cross country runners, who right now practice on city streets, he said.

A mid-city trail could also provide opportunities for Amherst to host events such as city-sponsored 5K races.

Costilow said the plan would not come to fruition for several years. If the city is successful in winning the ODNR grant, it would still have to go about acquiring land in spots, he said.

Councilman Brian Dembinski said he liked the recreational trail idea, which would mostly benefit the first ward, which he represents. Yet he had questions about how a 10-foot-wide trail would fit into the landscape.

Bramhall engineer Aaron Appell said the trail would fit into the public right-of-way and almost all properties along its proposed path have more than adequate frontage to accommodate it.

In some spots, the path may have to narrow to eight feet, however. Costilow said it would be slightly narrower where there are decorative retaining walls or other obstructions in place.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk