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The Suburbanite
  • Extending North Canton trail is in the works

  • In a nod to the Village People hit songs, walkers, runners and cyclists can now take the Hoover Trail to the “Y.M.C.A.” but a planned trail extension would allow them to “Go West” to the Stark State College/Kent State University Stark campus.
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  • In a nod to the Village People hit songs, walkers, runners and cyclists can now take the Hoover Trail to the "Y.M.C.A." but a planned trail extension would allow them to "Go West" to the Stark State College/Kent State University Stark campus.
    Stark County Park District Director Bob Fonte said he plans to hold public meetings in the next four months to discuss possible routes for the two-mile extension of the Hoover Trail. The plan is to build west from the North Canton YMCA to the Pro Football Hall of Fame bridge over Interstate 77.
    "It gives the people the ability to get into Stark State/Kent Stark on a bike instead of fighting the traffic," said Fonte, adding that trails boost property values and provide safer pedestrian access. "If you look at any economic development formula anywhere in the country, a major component is quality of life, which includes access to parks and recreation. ... it just makes a community vibrant."
    Fonte said he had a preliminary design meeting Dec. 13 with the project consultants and Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 officials, who have to approve the plans. They went over the state's design standards, reviewed possible routes, the timeline, environmental requirements and the project scope.
    GOOD FOR ECONOMY?
    Mayor David Held said the Hoover Trail has helped the city attract employers.
    "Extending the trail system is really great for those who like to take walks, ride bikes ... exercise," said Held. "When we had new companies coming in, you know what they told us? Parks, trails were definitely a plus."
    Last month, Peter Goffstein, an executive for a developer of the Hoover District, said the Hoover Trail will help draw tenants to planned apartments in the former Hoover Co. plant.
    "You've got places where people can live and bike to their college," he said.
    The Hall of Fame bridge already has a sidewalk that the park district had constructed. Stark Parks plans to build an asphalt trail, probably around 10 feet wide, from that bridge sidewalk east to Whipple Avenue that would run along the south of Dressler Road NW.
    Because of the hill grading east of the bridge, it could not be a crushed limestone trail like many of Stark Parks' other trails, Fonte said. He added that the property owners south of Dressler have expressed support for the project.
    ROUTE OPTIONS
    The unsettled issue is the route of the trail through the densely populated area between Whipple Avenue NW and the YMCA on the southeast corner of Main and Maple Streets.
    Fonte said the trail could go through the frequently flooded area west and south of Price Park. That includes the former Pathway for Caring property, now owned by Stark Parks. It also includes homes on Lucille Avenue NW, Furbee Avenue NW and Linwood Avenue SW, that Stark Parks is looking to buy with federal dollars to allow the homeowners to escape the flooding.
    Page 2 of 3 - City officials have made it clear they would prefer it not incorporate the existing running trail in Price Park because they don't think it can handle bike traffic, Fonte said. And while Maple Street has sidewalks that could be made part of the trail, ODOT normally requires that a 10-foot-wide trail be five feet from the road, which could take up a large portion of residents' front yards.
    Fonte declined to go into more detail about the route options.
    Council President Jon Snyder, Ward 4, said if the trail comes east on Glenwood Street SW, that too could take up too much of residents' property. He said residents in the late 1990s balked at building a sidewalk there for that same reason.
    Snyder said another possible route would be via Linwood, the city-owned former Arrowhead golf course and the wooded area around Rose Lane Street SW and James Street SW. It's not clear if the trail would then incorporate much of the South Main Street sidewalk to get north to the YMCA.
    And "I don't think all of the residents on Rose Lane would appreciate a trail coming through," Snyder said.
    Snyder said the trail is an "asset of the community," but he's heard residents at Washington Square, who moved in after the Hoover Trail was built, complain that they feel they have less privacy due to the large number of people using the trail.
    Fonte acknowledged the concern but said the benefits of improved property values and quality of life outweigh the costs. He said the park district has sought to accommodate residents. When a resident complained that trail users were cutting across the person's property, the district put up a barrier.
    FUNDING
    The Stark County Regional Planning Commission in May approved to allocate about $710,000 in federal funding for construction of the trail extension starting in July 2016. The park district would provide about $178,250 in park levy funding, but donations of right-of-way by property owners could lower the cost.
    About $190,000 has been set aside to pay for design, but the final design cost is not known, said Fonte. Stark Parks has a nearly $157,000 design contract with ME/IBI Group.
    Fonte said the trail extension, while only two miles long, could cost about $1 million because trails through more densely populated areas cost more than trails through rural areas.
    For example, it'll cost money to route the trail over a railroad line, around an AT&T signal box on Dressler and to relocate utility lines. A bridge over the Zimber Ditch could cost $500,000. Adding signage and adjusting traffic signals can also add to the cost. Acquiring right-of-way in Belden Village and North Canton and building concrete trails — more suited for urban areas — rather than the normal limestone trails, can be more expensive.
    Page 3 of 3 - The purchase of right of way and environmental impact studies would take place in 2014, final design approval from ODOT is expected in 2015 and construction would start in July of 2016. The construction is expected to be done within six months to a year.
    Reach Robert at 330-580-8327
    On Twitter: @rwangREP
    Long-term trail plan
    The Hoover Trail extension would be the latest piece in Stark Parks Director Bob Fonte's long-term plan to build an expansive, interconnecting trail system throughout Stark County.
    Fonte also is seeking a $200,000 state grant to fund a trail from the Pro Football Hall of Fame bridge over Interstate 77 through the Stark State/Kent Stark campus to Frank Road NW in Jackson Township. The timing of the grant cycles could result in Stark Parks completing the campus trail in 2016, before the Hoover Trail extension. Fonte eventually hopes to get grants to build a trail from Frank west to the Towpath Trail in Canal Fulton.
    The Hoover Trail
    Ending at the North Canton YMCA, the five-mile Hoover Trail goes through the Hoover High School campus, snakes through the Sanctuary allotment, goes through a large wooded area east of Marquardt Avenue NE and ends at Washington Square. The trail has been built and opened in phases between 2006 and last year.
    For now, there is no sidewalk access where the trail uses Taft Avenue NE to connect the YMCA and the Hoover High School campus, but the city plans to build that next year as part of its state-funded East Maple Street project.
    Those who take Bellview Street NE can access the Middle Branch Trail, which travels through Plain Township south to Canton. Stark County Park District Director Bob Fonte plans to build a tunnel under Market Avenue N to connect to a planned trail extension through the former Edgewood Golf Course that would serve as a permanent connector to the Middle Branch Trail.

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