City planning for more sidewalks; Aurora seeks Safe Routes to School grant

By Mike Lesko | Aurora Advocate Published:

Aurora officials are working on two fronts to put more sidewalks and bike paths in the city.

A Safe Routes to School grant for infrastructure, which was unsuccessfully requested a year ago, is again being sought.

Also, Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin, saying connectivity is one of her priorities, put $100,000 in the 2014 budget for possible sidewalks on S.R. 82, a path connecting the former Aurora Golf Course with Pioneer Trail, and possibly extending to Sunny Lake.

Councilwoman Amy McDougald said she endorses Womer Benjamin's decision.

"Having visited almost 2,000 homes and businesses this year for my campaign, this issue more than any other is what the people of this city are asking for," McDougald said. "By using ramps, recycling road material and filling in the gaps of existing sidewalks, I believe we can do a lot with these funds and help make Aurora better connected."

Regarding the Safe Routes to School infrastructure grant, the city is requesting up to $500,000 in state money for sidewalks and bicycle paths around the schools.

"This is the same infrastructure grant that we applied for last year that we did not receive," interim city planner Denise Januska said. "So we're going to try again and hopefully do better this time."

If approved, funding would pay for sidewalk and bicycle path improvements, crosswalks and traffic signals. Officials said the proposed sidewalks would connect the high school to the middle school, along with adding sidewalks on South Chillicothe and Aurora-Hudson roads.

City officials have said grant money is necessary for the city to move forward with the project.

Januska said in reference to the $30,000 in non-infrastructure funding that the city received last year, the city is planning "educational programs like a bike rodeo and public service announcements through the high school that would be shown in the elementary schools -- various programs through the police department that we're working on."

Januska said she has been in touch with the city's Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 contact person.

"We can show that we're working on some educational programs that we worked on previously. That should help [regarding grant money being sought]," she said.

Safe Routes to School is a national program. Part of the program's intent is to increase physical activity through walking or bicycling to school. Although the project, if completed, would allow students to walk and bicycle to school more easily, they would not be required to do so, officials said.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC

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