WARREN Councilmen share concerns about who will use bike trail

WARREN -- Some council members are concerned about maintenance of a section of railroad right of way proposed for a bike trail.
An ordinance is to be on city council's agenda tonight to authorize the administration to file an application for a $56,250 open space grant with the state Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.
The money would be used to buy nearly two miles of former Baltimore & amp; Ohio railroad right of way from Burton Street to Forest Street. The section, owned by Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp., is for the Warren bikeway part of the Great Ohio Lake to River Greenway Trail.
Some council members are concerned about the area becoming a haven for prostitutes, vagrants and drug dealers.
"It's going to be nothing but a whore way and a drug way," said Councilman Alford L. Novak, D-2nd. "We can't get hookers off the streets now. How are we going to get them out of the back yards?"
'Golden opportunity'
Dave Robison, director of engineering, community development and planning, said the trail would connect with trails in surrounding communities.
"If you want bike trails in the city of Warren, and you've said you do, this is a golden opportunity to do it without paying for it out of community development or the general fund," Robison said.
Councilman Gary Fonce, D-at large, said the city needs a plan for the parks it already has.
"We have 21 parks that we can't maintain now and we're not doing anything to solve it," he said, adding that it could create more of a burden for the operations department.
The deadline to apply for the grant is April 30.
"It may be a wonderful idea and a good thing for the city, but instead of doing it piecemeal as we go along, we need to have a plan," Fonce said.
Councilman Robert Holmes III, D-4th, said he'd support it only if a fence were erected on either side of the trail.
Mayor Hank Angelo said that in other communities with bike trails, there aren't fences. The people that use the trails aren't people who will vandalize them, he said.
Angelo said that if the city is awarded the grant and council decides it's opposed to buying the right of way, the city will turn the grant money down.
Finance committee members voted to recommend passage of the ordinance at tonight's meeting with Novak casting the lone dissenting vote.

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