A push to improve safety at four local elementary schools continues to gain momentum as local governments line up to support a grant application.
The Delaware General Health District is coordinating efforts to seek almost $350,000 in grant funding through the federal Safe Routes to Schools program for infrastructure improvements at Alum Creek, Glen Oak, Oak Creek and Tyler Run elementary schools. Officials in Powell, Liberty Township and Orange Township are partnering with Olentangy schools on the application.
Powell City Council voted unanimously last week to put up $7,000 to be used as matching funds if the grant is awarded to the group.
Liberty Township already has approved $7,000 in matching funds, while Orange Township has agreed to cover 10 percent of the construction costs within the township's right of way. Liberty Township trustees approved the project's memorandum of understanding at their Feb. 5 meeting.
"I like that there's so many groups coming together," Trustee Tom Mitchell said.
Powell City Manager Steve Lutz said other agencies are supporting the project, too.
"Other funds would come from (PTOs) and Olentangy schools," Lutz said. "The lion's share would come from the grant."
According to the memorandum of understanding between the governments, Olentangy schools would match up to 10 percent of the costs of infrastructure improvements at the four schools. The Delaware County Engineer's Office has offered to do planning work on the projects at no cost to the group.
Although the Ohio Department of Transportation has agreed to pay the full 20 percent local match for the grant, officials said the project will have a better chance of receiving funding if local communities offer some matching funds.
Under the group's plan, Oak Creek Elementary School in Lewis Center and Tyler Run Elementary School in Powell would see the majority of the grant funding -- about $100,000 for infrastructure improvements at each school.
Planned improvements include new bike racks and speed-limit signs with flashing beacons at each school.
Officials have said the goal of the project is to provide safer paths for students walking, biking and riding scooters to school, which also will encourage them to exercise.
Lutz said Powell's administration has not yet determined which of the city's funds the match money would be drawn from.
"If we were awarded this money, we would take a look at the best location and bring forward an appropriation ordinance," he said.