The Marysville-Union County Port Authority is working on a plan to bring local sights a little closer.

The Marysville-Union County Port Authority is working on a plan to bring local sights a little closer.

The Union County Trail and Greenway Master Plan is the area's first effort to develop alternative modes of transportation, according to Eric Phillips, executive director of the Union County Economic Development Partnership and CEO of the Union County Chamber of Commerce.

"The goal is to tie communities, subdivisions, parks, schools, natural and historic sites, and businesses with a system of on- and off-road trails for walking, running, canoeing or kayaking (water trails), horse riding and/or biking," Phillips said in an email.

"The plan will not only provide connectivity but will also promote wellness in our community."

The port authority is the statutory agent in charge of the public-private partnership overseeing the project. The Union County Board of Commissioners created the authority in 2008.

Port authorities can serve the public interest for economic development as well as transportation. Under the Ohio Revised Code, they have certain powers in the areas of real estate development, financing and managing foreign trade zones.

So far, the port authority has raised $32,000 that will pay consultants' fees to develop the trail and greenway master plan. Phillips said the master plan is necessary to figure out what the project will cost, at which point state and federal funding options can be explored.

Phillips said the idea for a connectivity plan started about eight years ago, when the Union County Economic Development Partnership met with various jurisdictions to develop the first county map highlighting natural and recreational opportunities.

"From this effort, we decided to see how we could tie the parks and communities together," he said. "We worked closely with MORPC (the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission) to develop a preliminary trails map.

"From this effort, we realized that we needed to study the locations of these trails in more detail," Phillips said.

CT Consultants of Columbus is working on the master plan, which port authority officials hope to have completed by year's end.

"This is very preliminary at this point. We should have something very soon," Phillips said.

Donors to the effort include:

• City of Marysville, $10,000

• Union County Bed Tax Reserve Fund, $10,000

• Jerome Township, $2,500

• Nationwide Realty Investors-Jerome Village, $2,500

• Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., $2,500

• Union County Health Department, $1,500

• Union County Economic Development Partnership, $1,000

• Millcreek Township, $1,000

• Joseph and Janet Mitchell, $1,000