YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The area’s leading bicycle club was vocal Thursday afternoon about what they want in a proposed trail linking downtown Youngstown to Mill Creek Park.
Members of the Out-Spokin’ Wheelmen club sat together in a Covelli Centre meeting room. The public meeting was held two weeks before the application for a grant to help fund the project is due.
The cycling club and 40 others listened to Dominic Marchionda, with Youngstown State’s Regional Economic Initiative, explain the proposed recreational trail.
“Almost 20 percent of our households in Youngstown don’t own a vehicle. When you think of this trail, you think bike and hike but people rely on that to actually get to work,” he said.
The path would begin at the base of the South Avenue bridge near the Covelli Centre. Then it would head up Front Street, over the Spring Common Bridge, along Mahoning Avenue, down West Avenue, along Tod Avenue behind the Ward Bakery building to finally link up with Mill Creek Park below Fellows Riverside Gardens.
Bike club members suggested creating separate paths for walkers and not making the path bidirectional.
“If there’s any way we can just get that off the plan, that would be much more approachable and much safer,” Ellen Satre said.
Marchionda showed a rendering of what the path could look like along Tod Avenue, separate and next to the road. But Tod Avenue is lightly traveled.
“I think it needs nothing but better pavement. If you wanted to put bike route signs there, that would be fine. If you want to promote it via maps, that would be fine. But I honestly think it needs nothing but better pavement,” said Out-Spokin’ Wheelmen member Frank Krygowski.
Five of the seven Youngstown City Council members attended the public meeting.
Wednesday, council approved applying for a grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to help pay for most of the project. The grant application is due February 1 with a decision coming by July 31.
If ODNR approves the grant — which is no guarantee because it’s highly competitive — the city will still have to pay a portion of the total cost of $873,000 for the bike path.
The grant maximum is $500,000 and the city has committed to paying $218,250. That leaves $154,750 unaccounted for.
Marchionda said the extra money would come from other funds, though he wouldn’t specify what those funds were.
The goal would be to have the path built when the new downtown amphitheater opens in May of 2018.