Village receives more money for walking trail

EAST PALESTINE – A project to connect two sections of the community walking/bike trail in town has received more state funding and village council will need to decide soon whether to move forward, Village Manager Pete Monteleone said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has awarded $43,515 for the project to match funds awarded by the Ohio Department of Transportation in 2011.

The village received $116,052 from ODOT but the project couldn’t move forward at that time because money for the match wasn’t available, he said.

Monteleone said in a written report to council that he advised ODOT last year the village was unable to come up with the match, and the project had to be tabled.

“When I received the letter in late October of this year it was a surprise that we received the funding at this late date,” he said.

At first he was concerned the original ODOT funding would no longer be available, but the agency was able to reacquire the funds after he notified them the match was available.

The total project cost is $160,078 and funding awarded is part of the state’s $400,000 million Clean Ohio initiative started in the early 2000s.

Grants have been awarded to several Ohio communities over the years for projects focused on improving and expanding the state’s network of recreational trails.

According to a previous ODNR press release, the state’s “ultimate goal” is to have easy access to recreational trails within 10 minutes of all Ohioans.

The $43,515 grant was awarded through the Clean Ohio Trails Fund, and before the project can move forward , it must be approved by the State of Ohio Controlling Board in January, according to the ODNR letter to the village.

The local project will connect the trail in the West Main Street area near the railroad, Monteleone said.

Councilman Don Elzer said connecting the trail will make that area safer.

“This is an important part, because down there near West Main Street, someone could get killed between those two pieces,” he said.

Councilman Fran Figley suggested the village hold an informational meeting with residents before making a decision.