Sidewalk project moves forward with property acquisition

LAURA FREEMAN
Reporter
The sidewalk project would include sidewalks on the west side of Darrow Road from Hibbard Drive north to the Shoppes of Stow.

STOW — The pandemic has made residents more aware of outdoor opportunities, and council members wanted to know about sidewalk and bike trail projects at its Aug. 6 meeting.

Director of Public Service Nicholas Wren told council he would work on a sidewalk and bicycle preliminary plan which could be presented by the end of the year.

Councilmember Steve Hailer said he has visited both bike shops in Stow. He said they are doing a good business and anything council and the city could do to help would be good for residents.

Hailer said the sidewalks and bike trails plan was an important project and said he had a near accident on Fishcreek Road.

“We need more bike lanes,” Hailer said. “Education is needed and general awareness with bicyclist following rules and wearing bright clothing.”

The Road and Safety Committee met July 16 and created a slide show of sidewalk and bike trails past and future projects.

The city has 169.4 miles of existing sidewalks within the city.

A federally funded sidewalks program will connect intermittent sidewalks and upgrade outdated curb ramps along Darrow Road from Conwill Road to Shoppes of Stow. Most of the sidewalk will be on the east side of Darrow Road up to Hibbard Drive and then will be on the west side of the street up to the shopping mall.

Upon completion of this project sidewalks will be in place from Kent Road to Norton Road, allowing safe pedestrian travel to multiple businesses, parks, municipal facilities, and neighborhoods.

Finance Director Jim Costello said the city needs connectivity and is putting together a plan but to connect sidewalks the city has to go through residents’ yards and they may not want to lose their property.

City Engineer Jim McCleary said a company is working with property owners to acquire the right of way along Darrow Road. Council on Aug. 6 passed legislation to appropriate real property for sidewalk improvement, and the city of Stow is notifying property owners they need to wrap up negotiations before Sept. 10 when council could pass appropriations legislation. So far, there are 14 parcels on legislation but only six are failing to negotiate, he said.

Federally funded projects require all curb ramps in project limits to be upgraded to ADA standards. Any city storm, water, or transportation project that disturbs a curb ramp upgrades them to ADA standards. The service department has installed new pedestrian push buttons with locator tones for ADA upgrades. Prior city sidewalk maintenance programs partnered with residents to repair sidewalk slabs that were cracked, settled, uplifted, or otherwise in disrepair.

Safe Routes to School projects have been completed previously to build and rehab sidewalks on routes near schools. The grant process is heavily involved and requires coordination between departments and the school district.

Stow currently has 17 miles of existing bike and hike trails made up of 12.67 miles dedicated bike and hike path; 3.15 miles on the road with no bike lane; and 1.18 miles on the road with a bike lane or wider sidewalks.

The proposed project called the Stow Silver Lake Cuyahoga Falls Hike and Bike Trail will remove the current bike trail off of the roadway with a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail on the south side of Springdale Road to the Route 8 pedestrian bridge. The tentative award date is scheduled for the summer of 2024. The design and construction will be completed in house. The project is the first leg of the Akron Secondary Trail.

Mayor John Pribonic said the city needs a connectivity plan to connect the community together through walking and biking. He said the city is gathering funding sources and coming up with a plan.

“It won’t be accomplished in one year but it’s important to have connectivity for safety and to get out,” Pribonic said. “Get out and enjoy our city.”

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at lfreeman@recordpub.com

Sidewalks are planned on the east side of Darrow Road from Conwill Road up to Hibbard Drive.