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Bike group hoping for best in coming campaign

PARKERSBURG — Lloyd Roberts, the chair of Bike and Hike Parkersburg, will be hoping for the best on May 5 when www.GiveLocalMOV.org has its 24-hour online-giving campaign.

Planning to one day link up with the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition, which stretches to Lake Erie and eventually hopes to cover more than four dozen counties in four states, Bike and Hike is trying to fulfill a mission started long ago.

The North Bend Rail Trail currently runs 72 miles, but ends at Happy Valley just inside Wood County. The goal is to extend that stretch three miles to Point Park.

“This has been something people have worked on since the 1980s and we think we are going to make some progress this time maybe,” Roberts said. “We’re a volunteer organization, no funding from the county. This is our project and we want to get this done. I’m in it because I see it as economic development for the area.

“Let’s imagine we had this bike trail. There are people that live on Staunton Avenue. They could ride their bikes to WVU-P to go to classes. Some people in Davisville could ride their bikes to jobs downtown, maybe you don’t want to ride your bike 15 miles to work everyday. It’s good for property values if you have property by a trail.”

One reason why funds are so important at this time is Bike and Hike hopes to utilize a $200,000 grant, but needs to raise 20% of that in matching funds.

“We need the federal grant to acquire the rail bed from CSX,” Roberts explained. “We’re spending $5,000 of our own money. We are putting some skin in the game ourselves.

“The money we raise is not going to be close to what’s needed, but it’s the seed money that really helped the project get started.”

The stated goal of the organization is to work toward expanding biking, hiking and paddling opportunities in Wood County.

Completing a trail from Parkersburg to Williamstown is another future plan.

Roberts is hopeful people can see the benefits of creating “free, safe, family friendly spaces for physical activity and recreation.”

According to Roberts, Bike and Hike Parkersburg was planning “to be at the mall for safety day and that got canceled. We’ve done community bike campaigns.

“We’ve got all the cities to pass legislation to make drain grades put in safely. We’re a county-wide organization, mostly Parkersburg. Parkersburg has the population density that can support bike trails and things.”

Stressing “our priority project is to get North Bend Rail Trail extended into Parkersburg,” Roberts welcomes any and all support.

“The past three years we’ve raised about $5,000 a year and we’ve had 15, 16 people donate and about half are on our board,” he added.

“The great thing is Superior Toyota (Hyundai) with the matching dollars (up to $30,000 overall). They sponsored the whole thing for different organizations.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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