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Hiram residents asked to consider options for hike and bike trail connecting college properties and

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published: March 21, 2013 4:00 AM
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The maps were laid before the Hiram residents Wednesday, with consultants asking them to choose between choice A, B, C or D. But many said the most viable option was "Option E," the "no-build option."

A proposed four-mile hike and bike trail would connect Hiram College with the Hiram College James H. Barrow Field Station and the Headwaters Trail near Garrettsville. Residents crowded around tables at Koritansky Hall at Hiram College, debating the merits of the color-coded lines that wound through the college and surrounding property.

CT Consultants, who are doing a route study for the Portage County Engineer's Office, said the options would cost anywhere from zero dollars -- the no-build option -- to $8 million, with most options costing about $6 million.

Right now, the college has only enough money to do the study and the northern portion of the trail. Future grants will be sought to build the trail in stages.

Betty Gualtieri expressed her immediate disdain for Option A, shown as a blue line running close to her home. Consultants said that option is most likely cost-prohibitive, citing many environmental hurdles.

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"They shouldn't make all the private property owners shoulder the burden," Gualtieri said.

She and her neighbors wondered why the map couldn't be redrawn to keep the trail entirely on college property. Consultants said two options steer the trail away from the college because of deed restrictions that limit what can be done on some portions of the land.

David Hill and his wife, Judy, expressed concerns about pedestrian safety. The residents of S.R. 82 said people drive 60 to 70 miles per hour on the state route. One option takes the trail down Wheeler Road, where there are no sidewalks.

"With increased fracking in the area, there's a lot more truck traffic," David Hill said.

Hiram Mayor Lou Bertrand said the trail would be an asset for the area.

"These trails connect all the cities," he said. "That's what it's all about, connecting communities."

Hiram College, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Portage County Engineer's Office are expected to choose the best route, taking into consideration the comments made at Wednesday's meeting. Comments also can be submitted to biketrailcomments@ctconsultants.com. Comments will be received until April 13.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

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tef Mar 27, 2013 7:14 AM

I attended the viewing of the proposed trail on Wed. I really like the concept of the project. It would be nice to have added trails in the area. I am disappointed in the fact that so much work was done in the planning and proposal stage with little to no input or involvement from the surrounding community. Sadly, this has been the trend that the College has practiced since I've live here. A project like this needs community involvement at the very beginning. I believe better alternatives exist than

kenny2 Mar 21, 2013 8:32 PM

as a past 4h advisor for 14 years and past president of the portage county horsemans assc.the safty of kid and adults being of utmost concern.i am very concerned with the proposal of trails that was put in front of us wen night.this will possibly elimated all riding for everyone in this area due to the fact that we now ride there with owners permission after these trails are done they will take this away.also at wen. night meeting two different maps were shown. also one person said that there would be two seprate trails in places one would a walk path and one would be a bike trail.that was from the consults one of the other said no there would be only one trail.