Avon City Council continued discussions on a proposed asphalt bike trail as concerns mount over maintenance issues and the price tag.
The $1.1 million project dubbed the French Creek Greenway would construct a 10-foot wide asphalt bike trail on French Creek Road as part of a plan to improve connectivity.
Concerns over the cost and location of the proposed trail have delayed passage of engineering plans for the project, currently slated for a vote on Sept. 14.
The project in collaboration with Sheffield Village and Lorain County Metro Parks would construct the trail from Detroit Road to the Sheffield Village line with $250,000 in grant funding from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.
Council At-Large member Tammy Holtzmeier said the project was a question of appropriateness in terms of the use of taxpayer money and whether it served the needs of residents as a whole.
With approximately $850,000 to be covered by Avon taxpayers, she expressed concerns that the city was aiming to place the trail in a mostly residential area and would potentially rip out sidewalks installed by residents with their own money.
“Our eyes as good stewards of taxpayer money should be on the bottom line,” Holtzmeier said.
She added the city’s annual sidewalk program encourages residents to help increase connectivity and wants to see that program continue to have credibility in the future.
“I’m not attracted to using further taxpayer money above and beyond what even a grant would cover to rip off sidewalks and reinstall trails over that area that then connect to more sidewalks,” she said.
Avon Ward 1 Councilman Bob Butkowski suggested that pursuing a trail head at Avon Isle would accomplish the goals of improving bike connectivity and also connect more residents in Avon.
The proposed French Creek trail currently has no connectivity to other parts of the city.
Lorain County Metro Parks Director Jim Ziemnik said annual maintenance costs for all asphalt trails they manage is about $10,000 and they have had minimal problems. He strongly encouraged council to move forward and “chip away” at increasing connectivity.
He cautioned council that NOACA funding remains competitive, and he encouraged them to move forward with the approved plan following the extensive public consultation and review process. He noted that moving in a different direction could have a negative impact on future projects when the city seeks grant funding.
“They stepped up to the plate and said, we’re going to give you money to start building it,” Ziemnik said. “If you pull that plug right now, there goes all that cash down the drain.”
The project can be completed in phases with the city seeking additional grant funding to offset the cost to taxpayers. Ziemnik added NOACA encourages communities to get projects finished in this manner.
Multiple residents at the meeting encouraged council to follow the desires of residents for improved trail connectivity and move forward.
Community surveys commissioned by the City of Avon in 2017 and 2008 indicated strong support for more bicycle and walking trails. In the 2017 survey 96 percent of the more than 1,800 respondents ranked bike trails as “important” or “very important,” outlining strong community support.