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CAC backs efforts to widen trail

City seeking grant to fund widening of northern segment of Olentangy Trail

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Members of the Clintonville Area Commission met in special session last week to offer their support for a grant being sought by city officials to widen a section of the Olentangy Trail between Antrim Lake and Bethel Road.

The decision to approve a resolution backing the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department's request for $1.45 million in funding from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission took a matter of minutes, CAC Chairman Daniel B. Miller said.

However, the special meeting lasted just under an hour as commission members discussed with Bradley R. Westall, parks development specialist, other aspects of the future for the 14-mile multiuse trail that runs along the Olentangy River from Worthington Hills north of Interstate 270 to downtown Columbus.

The special meeting was necessitated by a packed agenda for the area commission's regular session Aug. 7, which featured four guest speakers. These included Alan D. McKnight, director of Recreation and Parks, on the subject of the city's aquatics program in light of the impending closure of the Olympic Swim Club in Clintonville.

There was no way to shoehorn Westall in, Miller said.

The specific resolution approved by the CAC last week would pay for widening of the Olentangy Trail from its current 9 feet to 12 feet in the stretch between Bethel Road and Antrim Lake. This is the "maximum width achievable" for that section, which is used around 400,000 times a year, the document states.

The MORPC grant also would help pay for moving a portion of the trail away from the river to prevent erosion, installing a guardrail along state Route 315 and building two new connector trails: one from Bethel Road to Olentangy River Road and into Anheuser-Busch Sports Park; the other along Bethel Road to allow additional access that would alleviate parking issues at Antrim and Whetstone parks.

In their discussions with Westall following the vote on the resolution, Miller said the subjects of extending the Olentangy Trail to Highbanks Metro Park, creating a connector to Kenny Park and rerouting the multiuse path around or over West North Broadway all came up.

"All those ideas were things that are being considered," the commission chairman said. "None of them have been eliminated. It's just a matter of funding."

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