Yielding to dissent from residents, Upper Arlington City Council recently opted against seeking a grant to fund a bike path, which would have connected local parks, in addition to linking with the Olentangy and Lower Scioto trails.
Upper Arlington City Council on Jan. 28 voted unanimously to table legislation that would permit city officials to apply for a Clean Ohio Trail Fun and Recreational Trail Program grant.
The move effectively killed any chance the city had to obtain up to $454,000 in state money to fund the estimated $564,000 project because the grant application deadline was Feb. 1, and council wasn't slated to meet again until Monday, Feb. 11.
Had the city sought and received the full grant, it would have funded 75 percent to 80 percent of a project to construct 1.16 miles of "multi-purpose paths," or bike trails, which would have connected to existing trails within Reed Road and Sunny 95 parks, as well as to pathways at Hastings Middle School.
"Then, on a more regional aspect, this would be a key connector for the proposed Scioto River trail, which is under construction, and the Olentangy Trail," said Tim Moloney, Upper Arlington parks and recreation director.
Although the grant and proposed project was supported by city staff, council chose not to pursue the grant after hearing outcry from residents living along Lane Road, where the eight-foot wide path would have been constructed.
During approximately an hour of discussion on Jan. 28, a number of Lane Road residents came forward to voice opposition ranging from predictions the path on the south side of Lane Road would decrease the values of their properties, to issues of safety for people attempting to walk on the path and children playing in their front yards near it.
Instead of a bike trail, the residents said they wanted sidewalks, which would only be five-feet wide, on either the north or south side of Lane Road.
"Because of the size of this trail, I think it's an inappropriate use," said Julie Grimes, a Lane Road resident. "Everyone wants a sidewalk.
"If you build a multi-purpose path, you're only going to encourage ... more traffic on this very busy roadway. (In accessing my property) I will be dealing with looking at traffic on the bike path, and after I get done with that, traffic on the road."
Laura Mazzaferri of Lane Road was among residents who initially supported the city's pursuit of the grant, but she said that changed after details of the project became clear.
"I started the process," Mazzaferri said. "I'm not embarrassed at all to say this is not what we want.
"We wanted sidewalks. There's definitely a need, but (the bike trail) isn't the way to satisfy that need."
Although the city has an ordinance requiring homebuilders to install sidewalks when they construct new housing, that didn't occur on the recent additions to the north side of Lane Road due to "a major Columbia Gas transmission line" which would have cost "millions of dollars" to relocate for sidewalks, Upper Arlington City Manager Theodore Staton said.
According to city officials, the estimated cost of constructing sidewalks on the south side of Lane Road is $464,000, and council members said the city cannot afford the project. They added that covering the cost would set bad precedent for other city residents who also want the city to fund sidewalks in their neighborhoods.
"The city is not going to purchase the sidewalks," Councilwoman Deborah Johnson said. "The residents are going to have to do that."
Although they said they wouldn't fund a sidewalk project, council members said they would assist the Lane Road residents in organizing a petition drive or other efforts to get sidewalks south side of Lane Road.
They also took a unified stance against the grant, which Moloney previously had said the city stood a good chance of receiving because it hadn't been funded for such a project before, and because of its regional connectivity potential.
"I think it's very clear the residents are not in favor of it, and I think they've made some good points," council Vice President Frank Ciotola said. "It's obvious their desire is a sidewalk, and not a bike path."