Although a planned stretch of bike path following an Olentangy River tributary in Delaware might not be built for years, the proposal has left some residents nervous.

Delaware City Council in May unanimously passed legislation accepting a new master plan for the city's bike paths prepared by Columbus-based consulting firm Stantec. The report recommended the city complete dozens of projects to connect multiuse paths and drastically increase maintenance spending for existing trails.

One aspect of the plan that has drawn the ire of some city residents is a proposal to construct a new pathway east from Houk Road toward the city's downtown following Delaware Run, a tributary of the Olentangy River.

Delaware City Manager Tom Homan said the proposed connection along Delaware Run, like many projects in the plan, is not yet in the works.

"We don't have any funding for this project," he said. "It could be years before it takes place."

Wendell Patton, who lives along the run, said the proposed path would lead to maintenance and security problems for the city and nearby residents.

"It would be the most secluded of any city bike path," he said.

Patton said he also worries construction and subsequent activity on the trail would scare off native wildlife.

Delaware police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said he does not think the construction of the path would lead to a significant uptick in crime near the run. He said only about 100 police reports from the past five years contain a reference to a city bike path.

"Those bike paths really haven't proven to be a manpower drain," he said. "They haven't proven to be really problematic for us."

Homan said he gets why residents who live near the run might be wary of changes to what he called "a very, very special place."

"I can understand the residents who live down there being attached to it and being concerned about more people (being) down there, but I think it could be beneficial to the community," he said.

Councilwoman Lisa Keller said she agrees the site of the proposed trail link is "absolutely gorgeous."

"I don't know that I've found a place that is that beautiful," she said.

Mayor Carolyn Riggle said it is important for residents to realize the proposed path could take years to develop, if it is ever constructed.

"This is just a plan; it's not set in stone and we do not have the money to build it tomorrow or the next day," she said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick