Input sought in Devola trail decision

Even though Muskingum Township Trustee Ken Shilling has received 18 suggestions from the public about a proposed walking and bike trail that connects Devola’s Multi-Use Path with Marietta’s River Trail following a previous public meeting, he said he is looking for more.

On Tuesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Devola Fire Station, the Muskingum Township Trustees in conjunction with Woolpert, a Columbus based architectural and engineering firm, will be meeting with the public to receive input on the proposed path for a second time.

Shilling said the most prevalent idea suggested during the April meeting was to make the route of the path as scenic as possible. But with regulations put forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and potential land ownership problems, the route chosen may not be completely be the public’s choice, said Schilling.

“We’re going to have to meet in the middle,” he said. “The biggest challenge of any project like this is the slope on the path.”

According to the ADA, the maximum slope allowed on a walkway is a 5 percent grade.

“A more scenic route will be going up and down hills,” he said. “You can’t have too steep of slopes and still be in regulation.”

Another major obstacle facing the planning of the trail is how to get the path through privately owned land, Schilling said.

“It’s a ‘Not in my backyard’ issue,” he said.

Schilling said that since the project will be privately funded instead of through the government, the ease at which private property can be purchased and used is a more difficult process.

“Imminent domain can’t be used for this project. If a person doesn’t want it on their property, it won’t be,” he said.

Ron Mattox, practice leader for transportation at Woolpert, said he understands the desires of the community to make the trail as scenic as possible, but its layout will not be solely based on aesthetics.

“We want this to be connectivity for the entire community, not just the avid biker,” he said.

Mattox said that those bikers have expressed that they want the new path to leave the fairgrounds over the large hill next to it and then go into Marietta before heading west on Ohio 60.

“I’m a biker myself and enjoy the challenge of a hill like that,” he said. “But we need to think who is going to use the path. Would somebody pushing a baby carriage enjoy going up that hill?”

Mattox said be believes the single preferred corridor for the path would run from the boat ramp at Indian Acres and travel up Rathbone to Davis Avenue. It will then turn down and meet with Ohio 60 until joining Ohio 821. The alternative proposal will have the path wait until Colegate Drive before meeting Ohio 60 so people can access businesses more easily.

Even though there are many considerations made in finding the final proposed location, the biggest according to Schilling is safety.

Mattox agrees that the potential path crossing of Ohio 60 to gain entrance onto Ohio 821 does create safety concerns.

“It is a very busy intersection,” he said. “‘We’ve been talking with ODOT on how to make it safer. We want to use rapid fire signals that alert vehicles to pedestrians in the crossing.”

In regards to the meeting on Tuesday, Mattox said that he wants to hear all the concerns about the project that the public has.

“We want to find out if the public has any heartburn about what we are doing,” he said. “If you have comments and you don’t like what we are doing, let us know.”

Mattox also said that all suggestions and questions will be addressed after a short presentation at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting. If people can’t attend but still want to participate, they can email their concerns or questions to him at ron.mattox@woolpert.com, or the Muskingum Township at muskingumtwp@muskingumtwp.org. Questions or suggestions can also be mailed to Ron Mattox at 1, Easton Oval Suite 400, Columbus Ohio, 43219. Correspondence must be received by Dec. 13 to receive consideration.

According to Schilling, suggestions received at the meeting and vie mail will be considered before the final proposal is released in the beginning of December. No timeline has been set yet as the actual construction of the path is still years off, Schilling continued.

“We will be building the path in sections as we get the money from grants and donations,” he said.

For more information about the project go to the Muskingum Township’s website at muskingumtwp.org.

If you go:

•What: Public meeting for proposed hiking/biking trail connecting Marietta’s River Trail and Devola’s Multi-Use Path.

•When: 5:30 to 7: 30 p.m. Tuesday.

•Where: Devola fire station.

•For information: Go to Muskingum Township’s website at muskingumtwp.org

Source: Ken Schilling.

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