OPINION

Letter: Proposed Veterans Trail can 'provide a readily accessible recreation opportunity'

Kent Weeklies
.

I’m writing to express my support for the proposed Veterans Trail, a hike & bike trail on an abandoned railroad right of way that runs through the cities of Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Silver Lake, Stow, and Hudson. As a 27-year Air Force veteran, I can’t think of a finer way to honor the veterans of Summit County, past and present.

The Veterans Trail would be a major addition to the existing Summit County trail system, connecting six exiting or planned trails, including the Metro Parks Bike & Hike Trail. That trail is a wonderful asset, but it does not connect Akron or Hudson, which the new trail will. The proposed Veterans Trail will provide a readily accessible recreation opportunity to over 200,000 people in four major and one minor Summit County population centers.

I’ve cycled our local trails for over 4,500 miles in the past nine years. On one Saturday, riding the seven-mile Portage Hike and Bike Trail, I counted over 50 people using the trail. That was just 1½ hours on a trail connecting two towns with a combined population of only 40,000. Consider the benefits of a nine-mile trail connecting the combined populations of five towns.

Ohio has the 11th highest obesity rate in the nation, according to a study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Buckeye State's obesity rate sits at 33.8 percent for adults. I have a friend who is a type-2 diabetic and a year ago was on medication. This summer he told me he had lost nearly 30 pounds cycling the Metro Parks Bike and Hike Trail, and today is able to control his diabetes with diet and exercise.

My wife and I live in Southern Nevada, but since 2012 have been coming to Northeast Ohio to spend our summers. As we looked for a place to buy for a summer home, and since we are both retired, proximity and access to the local bike and hike trails was one of our top considerations. We finally settled on a condominium in Stow, just off the Metro Parks Bike and Hike Trail. Various studies have shown that proximity to trails can increase home values by as much as 6.5%. 

Curt Neal, Stow