By Elise Franco
Mill Creek MetroParks officials are seeking the public’s input during a forum on plans to extend its bikeway by 6.25 miles into Columbiana County, said Justin Rogers, planning manager and landscape architect.
Mahoning County residents and users of the MetroParks Bikeway are asked to attend an informational forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the MetroParks Farm in Canfield.
“We’ve been developing an alignment and right-of-way plan, and we do have a proposed alignment developed,” Rogers said. “We want to share that with all interested members of the community because this is the most significant update on this project.”
Rogers said the project will be the final phase of the bikeway — phases one and two were constructed in 2000 and 2001 and run 11 miles from County Line Road in Weathersfield Township to Western Reserve Road in Canfield.
The proposed expansion would take the path from Western Reserve, parallel to Washingtonville Road, which runs through Green Township and the village of Washingtonville in Columbiana County.
“It’s a significant continuation of one of our major regional facilities,” he said. “Connecting the existing bikeway to Columbiana County has been a major goal.”
Linda Kostka, park marketing and development director, said people who attend Thursday’s forum will have the opportunity to see the bikeway plans and give written comments on them. She said other organizations, such as the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway, that have a hand in helping to regionalize the bikeway, also will be present.
“At our forum for the strategic plan, we got a lot of good feedback that we used in the development of the plan,” she said. “We’re hoping this forum will be as successful and we get comments we can apply to this project.”
Rogers said several things must happen before the construction on the bikeway occurs, including acquisition of land from about a dozen private- property owners and designing and engineering the path.
Rogers said they want to gather feedback from community members before moving forward.
“Before we get in-depth with the engineering, we want to bring people in and hear what they have to say about the process,” he said. “There’s no definitive timetable, and because it’s highly involved, it could take years to develop.”
Rogers said the remainder of the project will progress more quickly once the park has agreements with the necessary landowners to acquire all or a portion of their properties.
“We’ve already been in touch with a lot of property owners along the proposed alignment,” he said. “This forum will be an opportunity for them to get an update on the project.”