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.
"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 email@example.com. Comments will be received until April 13.
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