HUDSON — The city plans to scale back plans for a bike and hike trail, and plans to return $500,000 to the Ohio Department of Transportation and rework the plan.
City staff will work with a group of residents on designing a scaled-down version of a planned bike and hike trail after those citizens expressed concerns about the original $1.29 million project.
After hearing citizens’ objections at both a Jan. 28 workshop and a Jan. 21 meeting, city council asked staff to cancel the original project with the ODOT and to determine the costs the city will incur from the contractor and ODOT for the cancellation.
While Hudson City Engineer Brad Kosco estimated the scaled-down version proposed by the residents could be done for $800,000, Assistant City Manager Thom Sheridan said he believed the cost would be "less than" Kosco’s figure.
If the original project is canceled, Sheridan said the city would have to pay "tens of thousands of dollars" to the contractor who was hired to do the work.
"Anything [the contractor has] incurred to date we would be paying," said Sheridan.
Council on Tuesday, Feb. 4, will be asked to vote on legislation that cancels the contract with Eclipse Company LLC and returns a $500,000 grant to ODOT.
Council members favored dropping the ODOT version of the project and having staff work with residents on a pared down plan.
"The ODOT thing just feels like the tail wagging the dog," said Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3). "It feels like we’re chasing money because it’s there and it’s not what the residents are interested in."
Council member Chris Foster (Ward 2) said the original plan would "fundamentally change the intended use of that area behind [the Nicholson Drive residents’] property … I think the gravel trail is definitely the way to go."
Regarding the money the city would owe the contractor, Foster said he felt "in the scheme of things, it’s a very small amount in order to maintain the intended use of the people who live on Nicholson."
The city’s engineering department will meet with residents to discuss their alternative proposal and then return to council with a new plan.
Veterans Trail Phase Three was planned as a multi-purpose path between Veterans Way Park and Barlow Road that would run along the west side of Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club behind homes on Nicholson Drive. The project would have included a 10-foot-wide multi-use asphalt path, an on-road path, storm drainage improvements, grading, bike lane striping, a traffic calming feature, tree removal, and a boardwalk and bridge replacement.
The on-road trail (shared bike lane) would have begun at the intersection of Veterans Way and Milford Drive and would have been on-road (shared bike lane) for 0.5 miles along Milford Drive, East Case Drive, and Lynn Drive. The asphalt trail would have begun at the end of Lynn Drive and would have been routed 1.1 miles through Cascade Park and along Ellsworth Meadows Golf Course all the way to Barlow Road.
The width of the path and the project design was based on ODOT’s requirements for the $500,000 in grant funding.
The original project was set to start the week of Jan. 20, but council delayed it after many residents (most of whom live on Nicholson Drive) attended a Jan. 21 meeting to object to the width of the trail and the planned removal of trees, which raised privacy and safety concerns.
Staff and council members met with residents on Jan. 26 to understand their concerns in greater detail.
Three Nicholson Drive residents — Jim Love, Shannon Navy and Tim Drake — presented their thoughts to council on Jan. 28.
Love said he and his neighbors were concerned about changing the walking path into a wider, multi-use path. He noted such a path was "not as safe as just a walking path." Love added that the planned removal of trees would take away a barrier that protected some residents from "errant golf shots" from Ellsworth Meadows.The trees also allow the residents to have privacy, according to Love.
More than 200 trees were slated to be removed. After city staff worked with ODOT to modify the plan, there were still 175 trees set to come down, said Love.
He said the proposed tree removal "makes no sense, especially when the state’s trying to increase greenery coverage." Love added residents were concerned about whether tree re-planting had been thought through, the impact of putting asphalt over a well water source and drainage issues.
Navy said she and her neighbors have been raising concerns for some time and added "things still keep going forward despite the issues we’re raising."
Drake noted he felt the wooded area where he lives is part of the area’s aesthetics. He said he and other residents favor connectivity and want to extend the current path, "but not in a paved road scenario." He also asked, "Do we need the state funding to create connectivity that is meaningful and helpful to the community?"
Recommendations from the residents included:
• Cancelling the ODOT-funded plan;
• Upgrading the current trail and add trail in areas where needed, but not a 10-foot wide path;
• Designing a smaller, gravel path, rather than the asphalt path in the original ODOT design;
• Keeping the new bridge envisioned near Cascade Park in the plan;
• No tree clearing;
• Addressing drainage and runoff issues; and
• Using "Share the Road" signs on Nicholson Drive for bicyclists.
Navy said she felt the residents’ recommendations "would appeal to the goals that everyone has."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.