A "game-changer" project more than two years in the making is moving forward at Colerain Elementary School, thanks to the work of some intrepid parents and community members.
Since 2017, residents have been fighting for a paved path on the west side of the property, 499 E. Weisheimer Road, that would "provide a safe place for all students, especially those who have mobility impairments, to extend their physical activity in a neighborhood that lacks sidewalks," said project manager Eileen Eyman.
Colerain is a neighborhood school for families living near the building, but it also serves as a magnet school for children with special needs, including those who use wheelchairs and walkers.
Due to concerns over stormwater work and other complications, the project has changed since its inception, becoming a shorter version that links with a path to create a loop that could support bikes and foot traffic while being short enough that even students with physical impairments could take a lap.
But to make that project a reality, the group had to raise the required funds of more than $40,000 for the project on its own.
Through grant funding, donations, fundraisers and other channels, the project was fully funded -- and went in front of the Columbus City Schools board March 3 for approval.
The issue originally was planned as part of the board's consent agenda -- a group of topics typically approved as a bundle with little conversation. But the board separated the approval, despite its unanimous support, to show appreciation to Eyman and her team.
"I think it is important that we allow you to celebrate your success," board president Jennifer Adair said. "We do a lot in this consent agenda, and we wanted to give you your moment. ... We are so very proud of you and the accomplishments you've made as a group."
Eyman, the parent of two former Colerain students, told the board her team was "really excited" about reaching the point of construction, which was awarded to McDaniel's Construction Corp.
At a school "unlike any other school in central Ohio," she said, the project represents major progress.
"Words cannot express how grateful we are to the Colerain school community and our neighbors," she said. "The project's success is a testament to the passion of this community and to the power of numerous small efforts.
"Success is only possible through every small act and penny donated."
Multiple school board members said they wished to publicly state how impressed they were by the project, between the fundraising efforts and coordination over the course of multiple years.
"The resources for this walking path were raised internally within the school," board member James Raglan said. "We wanted to thank the Colerain School Association. The interesting thing about the walking path is that our students at Colerain have some exceptional abilities, so this path allows them to get from the school to greenspace lot easier."
Eyman said leaders expect the path to be finished before summer -- and that she's expecting the path to be popular with the broader Clintonville community.
"We hope to see you out there," she said, "whether you walk, run, scoot, shuffle or roll."