The Delaware County Friends of the Trail, a nonprofit organization formed in 2000 to promote multi-use trails in Delaware County, is preparing to celebrate the completion of a 0.75-mile segment of trail near Hoover Reservoir.
"The contract calls for it to be finished by October, but we're hoping it will be done by late September," said Dave Bender, president of the Friends of the Trail.
Bender said the segment is known as the Hoover Scenic Trail, and its two features are a stretch along the reservoir and a prefabricated pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Old 3C Highway.
The total cost of the project is $542,000, of which $375,000 was provided by a state of Ohio Clean Fund grant. The balance was made up in contributions by Friends of the Trail and several jurisdictions involved in the project, including the city of Columbus and Delaware County, Galena, Berkshire Township and the non-profit organizations Ohio to Erie Trail and Preservation Parks of Delaware County.
Delaware County commissioners approved an advance of $175,000 earlier this month to help complete a project funded by the state of Ohio's Clean Ohio Fund Recreational Trails program in Delaware County. Bender said the advance eventually would be refunded by state funds.
When complete in about 10 years, the 485-mile Ohio to Erie Trail will run from Cincinnati to Cleveland, and cross 16 miles of Delaware County.
"I'd say we are about 65 percent complete (of the 16 miles in Delaware County)," Bender said.
County recorder Andrew Brenner, who was an original founding member of the Delaware County Friends of the Trail, said he has learned a good deal about government bureaucracy and red tape.
"This section of trail has taken us four or five years to get done," Brenner said. "We've had to deal with seven different government jurisdictions over one section of trail."
Brenner said it is difficult to assemble trail land, first because it is hard to find funds, second because owners might not be willing to sell or grant easements and third because so many different interests must align.
"We take our opportunities when we can," Bender said. "We approach landowners to acquire trail land, and some, depending on where they stand, are ready to move now, while others want to wait."
And if the trail ends at a recalcitrant landowner who doesn't want to sell at all?
"In that case we look for alternative routes," Bender said.
The next segment of trail, into Galena, will be 1.5 miles long, twice as long as the Hoover Scenic Trail, Bender said. The cost, however, is projected to be only about $350,000.
"It's a rail bed, which is already a good base, so the trail is pretty much just asphalt and no hills going up and down and no bridges," Bender said. "It's much cheaper."
Bender said the Friends of the Trail includes about 180 members. Information about the organization can be found at dcft.org.