Group applies for grants to fix bike trail

The trail needs to be resurfaced.
HILLSVILLE, Pa. -- The Stavich Bike Trail has seen better days.
The nearly 10-mile path that starts at Lowellville-Struthers Road in Lowellville, Ohio, and continues to Covert Road in Union Township, west of New Castle, Pa., needs to be repaved.
Most of the asphalt trail used by bicyclists and hikers is in relatively good shape, but some areas prone to flooding have eroded and the asphalt has cracked and buckled. Guardrails are also sorely needed in spots where the trail borders steep cliffs and drainage areas need to be cleaned and pipes replaced.
The Lowellville and Hillsville Charitable Foundation, the group that oversees maintenance of the bike trail, estimates repairs will cost about $250,000.
"The bike trail, as a whole, is in good shape, but we need to resurface it," said Eugene Butch Sr., a member of the foundation board of trustees.
Butch, through his company Butch and McCree Paving in Hillsville, paved the scenic path that was once overgrown bushes and weeds.
History: Butch said he became involved in the project in the mid-1970s when he served as a supervisor in Mahoning Township. A state grant was secured to pay for the work, but disputes over who would complete it caused the group to lose the grant.
The trail was finally completed in 1983 when Campbell philanthropist John Stavich, and his brothers Andy and George, pumped nearly $200,000 into the project.
"We were born in Campbell and the area has been good to us. We wanted to do something for future generations. You don't need to go out of this valley to find beauty and wholesome outdoor recreation. All we did was make them accessible," John Stavich told The Vindicator shortly after the trail was completed.
The Staviches went on to donate more money, which enabled the foundation to add to the bike trail, Butch said. He estimates the Staviches spent nearly $400,000 on the trail over the years.
John Stavich, who spearheaded the project and was president of Calex Corp., left an additional $50,000 to the foundation in his will for trail maintenance.
Butch said the money has helped, but only about $20,000 is left.
Grants: Trustees of the foundation, who include Butch, Gary Slaven, Judge John Almasy of Campbell Municipal Court and John Starkey, are hoping federal trails grants, which are administered through state agencies, will pick up the costs for the needed repairs.
Slaven said the foundation applied this month for a $200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and plans to apply in December for a $50,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
"We are hoping if we find out [about the grants] in the spring, we can get some work done when the weather breaks," he said.
Complaints: Despite the foundation's efforts at regular maintenance, Slaven said they did receive complaints this summer about crumbling asphalt and other problems.
But they are hoping the planned overhaul will keep the trail viable for bicycle riders and walkers for many years to come.
"Once this work is done I think we can forget about it for another 20 years," said Butch.

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