Hiking Trails

Steubenville officials debate support for trail access | News, Sports, Jobs

STEUBENVILLE — City Council made it clear Tuesday that it wants the Great American Trail to run through the heart of the city, signing a resolution to convince West Virginia officials to preserve the Market Street Bridge for recreational use.

At the same time, the council filed an action on a draft resolution endorsing efforts by the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission to create a two-city, three-county block to apply for a Reconnecting Communities pilot planning grant for “removing barriers to trails between West Virginia and Ohio”, allocate $25,000 to the required home game and declare it an emergency.

“I didn’t know it was about declaring an emergency, which means we need to have some level of conversation about it before committing funds,” Councilor Kimberly Hahn said. “I would really like to file – I know we have a lot on the table, and not put it off, but I have real concerns about it. The $25,000 is a local game, but I really think we need to be more definitive about the need to address the Market Street Bridge.

At the heart of some council members’ concern was BHJ director Mike Paprocki’s admission that although the Market Street Bridge was their objective, there could be more than one crossing point: he said that the new bridge being built near Brilliant is a given, but it’s possible Brown’s Island or even the Newell Toll Bridge could be designated for trail crossings.

“What that would do is bring the West Virginia partners to the project,” Paprocki said, adding that the group is “Working to create a safe and accessible Oho Valley for all.”

Hahn pointed out the Great American Trail, at this point, “is planned to cross the Market Street Bridge.”

“Really, I think it’s very preliminary, so I’m asking the board to table it tonight,” Hahn reiterated

City Engineer Mike Dolak disagreed, saying crossing the bridge is one of the main concerns for BHJ’s proposed grant application.

Councilor Royal Mayo opposed tabling the measure as the application must be submitted by the 13th.

Terry McKeegan, president of Jefferson County Trails and vice president of SRG, told the council there was “already a plan, there has been a plan since 2012” to bring the Great American Trail through downtown.

“The problem with the study is that I was told there would be a two-year delay,” McKeegan said. “So we’re basically going to put everything on hold instead of looking for a grant to come up with a plan, here we have a plan – we have to implement it and find the grants to implement the plan.”

Mayor Jerry Barilla pointed out that waiting a week would allow councilors Michael Hernon and Eric Timmons to have their say, since neither of them was at the weekly meeting.

“They could have been part of the vote (tonight), they could have been here”, Mayo said, reminding the council that Dolak and the director of urban projects had recommended the passage.

“We have our two experts saying go ahead, partner with BHJ.” he said. “I think we should vote and go from there… We need to have that vote of confidence tonight so it can move forward in the next few days.”

The Council, however, disagreed, voting 4 to 1 to table the measure until their September 27 meeting. McKeegan was asked to present the 2013 Great American Trails plan to the board at a 6:30 p.m. planning committee meeting.

The council, meanwhile, had no problem allowing City Manager Jim Mavromatis to launch a study to turn the Market Street Bridge into a biking and hiking junction.

In this document, the council commits to being part of the trail and designating the Market Street Bridge as the preferred route.

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