Pataskala Elementary School's 540 students walked through the streets of downtown Pataskala last week in an effort to promote safe walking trails.

Pataskala Elementary School's 540 students walked through the streets of downtown Pataskala last week in an effort to promote safe walking trails.

"For our kids it's about safety and to promote Safe Routes to School and bike safety," principal Denise Staffilino said. "We tied it this year to our Halloween parade."

Staffilino said Police Chief Chris Forshey spoke to the students Oct. 29 about safety during trick-or-treat, which held later that day. During the daytime parade, the students were encouraged to practice some of the safety measures they had learned from the Forshey.

Several of the school's students and teachers walk to school, Staffilino said, thus helping to promote the Safe Routes to School program.

Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher said the federal Safe Routes to School program funneled grant money through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) "to create safer walking and biking routes for grade-school children to travel to and from school."

Pataskala received a grant for engineering the improved walking and bicycle trails throughout the old village. Another $1,000 grant sponsored the Oct. 29 student walk through the village.

Butcher said the Oct. 29 walk helped raise awareness of problems along the walking route.

"Many of our current routes are crumbling and cause ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) conflicts, posing real safety concerns for students and adults alike," he said.

The city is working to improve the routes by replacing sidewalks in the old part of the village. The city is using a $250,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to replace 500 feet of sidewalks on Main Street, on both the north and south sides of the railroad tracks. By replacing the sidewalks, the city will bring the area into compliance with the ADA standards.

Butcher said Pataskala would apply for another $500,000 Safe Routes to School grant in the next few weeks to further implement infrastructure changes identified by city engineers.

The city also is working with the Licking Heights Local School District to implement a similar program in that district.