By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The Wood County Park District was again asked Tuesday to fill in the missing link of bike paths stretching from Cleveland to Indiana.
Former park board commissioner Frank McLaughlin called for the board to work to provide more cycle routes in the county, including opening up the missing section of the North Shore Inner Trail.
McLaughlin, of Bowling Green, has repeatedly raised the subject with the park board.
“I just want to make sure it’s an issue that stays on top of my mind,” he said on Tuesday.
Cycle lanes are very popular, he told the council. The Slippery Elm Trail between Bowling Green and North Baltimore is heavily used, especially on weekends.
“It’s like a highway there,” cyclists, joggers, walkers and in-line skaters, he said.
Although expensive to build, bike lanes bring economic benefits to regions, McLaughlin said. He referred to the Holmes County Bike Trail and the North Coast Inland Trail through Elmore, which take customers to places like cafes, ice cream parlors and bike repair businesses.
“Businesses have sprung up along the trail there,” he said of the Holmes County Trail.
“I know it’s not cheap, but it would be a real godsend to see Wood County do it,” McLaughlin said of paving the missing miles of the North Coast Inland Trail.
Currently, the North Coast Inland Trail goes from Cleveland, to Lorain and Huron, then to Elmore and Genoa – where it ends. Efforts are underway in Ottawa County to extend the trail to Millbury in Wood County.
But then the trail gets cold – Wood County being the missing link as bike paths run along the northern Ohio border from Cleveland to Indiana.
Once in Lucas County, the Wabash Cannonball Trail begins at Side Cut Metropark and then travels 63 miles through Lucas, Fulton, and Williams counties.
A cycleway right-of-way would have already been secured between Millbury and the WW Knight Reserve in Perrysburg Township, where the park board met on Tuesday, McLaughlin said.
From there, the Chessie Circle Rail Corridor extends from Bates Road and Ohio 65 in Wood County to River Road and Laskey Road in Toledo. The Chessie Circle Trail in Lucas County runs along an 11-mile stretch of abandoned railroad.
The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments acquired the CSX railroad property in 2011 for $6.6 million. The University of Toledo, City of Toledo, Metroparks Toledo, Wood County Park District, and Wood County Port Authority have partnered to help purchase the corridor.
Ideally, McLaughlin said, the Wood County Park District could also expand its network of bike paths from the southern tip to North Baltimore, north to Perrysburg.
Although bike lanes in the past have been the victim of “not in my backyard” complaints, McLaughlin said those concerns were unfounded.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, Director Chris Smalley reported that the Wood County Park District was named the second winner by the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association for its geocaching program.
“Thank you to the programming staff for their efforts,” Smalley said. “This is a great indication of the quality of work done by our program department.”
A total of 125 parks programs were nominated.
Also at the meeting, the board voted to purchase new vehicles and equipment for the park stewardship department, including:
- $49,761 for a 2022 Ford F350 that has towing capability.
- $16,324 for a Kubota utility vehicle.
- $15,260 for a dump bed trailer capable of hauling a Caterpillar.
Board members Bill Cameron and Tom Myers questioned purchasing the trailer from a Michigan dealership. Myers emphasized the need for the park board to be fiscally accountable to Wood County residents.
Bids had been solicited from seven dealers, but only two were submitted, Smalley said, and Michigan’s bid was the best. Due to the approach of the mowing season, the council voted to purchase the trailer, instead of looking for other offers.
In other cases, the council agreed to change its meeting hours to 3 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.