Rocky Fork Enterprise

Community benefits from trail, public improvement grants

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Although Gahanna is relinquishing a $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that could have helped local businesses clean up contaminated properties, city directors say the community has benefited greatly from other assistance the city has received in recent years.

In the Parks & Recreation Department, for example, grants have helped offset the cost of projects like the Big Walnut Trail, Safe Routes to School, Outdoor Adventure programs and others.

The city has received grants for canoes and fishing poles from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grants were used for the Southwest Flood Plain; and the Clean Ohio Trail Fund grants and the Recreational Trail Program grants helped pay for construction of the Big Walnut Trail.

"Gahanna absolutely would not have built as many trails over the past four years without these grants," said Troy Euton, parks and recreation deputy director.

Benefits to trails include providing alternative transportation routes and methods and providing opportunities for socialization and getting to know neighbors, Euton said.

Beth McCollam, parks public-information coordinator, said two residents who have lived near each other for four years had not met until the trail connected their neighborhoods.

Section 7 of the Big Walnut Trail provides quick access to the Hunters Ridge Plaza, which has the closest grocery store for residents on the southwest side of the city.

"I've seen several folks on that section of trail with pull carts or bikes with baskets with Kroger bags heading back home," McCollam said. "There isn't a nearby grocery store in this section of the city."

Some of the grants the parks department has received since 2007 include the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, the RTP and Safe Routes to School money.

Still under construction is Section 3 of the Big Walnut Trail.

The parks department received a $150,000 grant from the RTP to help with its estimated cost of $612,000.

Last year, the department received a $366,021 grant from the COTF and a $73,116 grant from RTP for Sections 1 and 3 of the trail that cost $686,000.

City engineer Karl Wetherholt said construction is being completed at the Gahanna Woods detention basin. The city received an OEPA Surface Water Improvement Fund grant of $60,000 for the $250,000 project.

The Tech Center Drive extension and bridge project was funded 80 percent, totaling $6.6 million, from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission attributable federal funds, Wetherholt said.

Intersection upgrades at U.S. Route 62 and Stygler Road were made possible via $1.5 million in Ohio Public Works Commission funds.

Gahanna also is receiving a $360,690 grant for a $663,300 Safe Routes to School sidewalk construction project in 2013. Another grant of $245,000 is earmarked for Phase 2 of Safe Routes to School, with construction slated for 2015, according to Wetherholt.

He said Gahanna also has benefited from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Franklin County used to pave the following streets in Gahanna: Eastbound U.S. Route 62, from Stygler to Old Ridenour; Hamilton Road, over the I-270 bridge deck, resurfacing; and Cherrybottom Road, from Brookhill to Morse.

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