Trumbull officials dedicate Western Reserve Greenway to Paul Heltzel


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Trumbull County commissioners, from left, Mauro Cantalamessa and Dan Polivka stand with Rosemary Heltzel and Commissioner Frank Fuda at the dedication ceremony Friday of the Paul E. Heltzel segment of the Western Reserve Greenway bike trail. The 2.2-mile segment, which runs from Champion Avenue in Champion to North River Road in Warren, was completed recently. Rosemary Heltel’s husband, Paul Heltzel, was a Trumbull County commissioner who died in June.

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Paul Heltzel

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A section of the new Paul E. Heltzel segment of the Western Reserve Greenway, named after former the Trumbull County commissioner.

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

It took eight years for planning and construction of the third phase of the Western Reserve Greenway bike and hike trail to be completed.

It’ll be a few more months before most bike riders and hikers can start to enjoy it.

On Friday, Trumbull County officials and representatives from numerous other groups who helped create the 2.2-mile trail celebrated the ribbon-cutting and dedication. The trail is between Champion Street East in Champion and North River Road in Warren.

The Trumbull County MetroParks Board, which operates it, had planned to have the ceremony behind the Trumbull Career and Technical Center, on the edge of the trail, but a snowstorm and cold weather forced the ceremony indoors to the county commissioners’ office.

One man who tried out the bike trail in recent weeks while workers finished it was Carl Antonelli of Champion, who raved about the beauty of the scenery.

“The elevations, open space, curves. It’s absolutely fantastic,” he said. “That is by far the most-unique section of the Great Ohio Lake to River Greenway.”

It may be a little while before his assertion can be verified because so few people have seen the new section. But Zach Svette, MetroParks project coordinator, said there is a reason the trail is so unique — it didn’t follow the rail bed as the 14.6-mile phases one and two to the north did.

The trail, which passes the county engineer’s office, swings to the east near the state Route 5 Bypass to pass under a bridge overpass, then back to the west to continue behind the vocational school.

A variety of issues — such as acquiring rights of way and wetlands issues — prevented the trail from following the rail bed.

But taking the extra time and working through the challenges paid off for users of the trail because this phase of the trail is so much fun to use, Svette said.

Part of Friday’s ceremony was a tribute to Paul E. Heltzel, the county commissioner who died in June. Phase three is being named the Paul E. Heltzel segment in his honor because he was an avid bicycle rider.

Mauro Cantalamessa, who was elected earlier this month to serve out the last two years of Heltzel’s term as commissioner, praised Heltzel as a “mentor and a friend” who did a lot of things to improve the county.

“I can’t think of a better person when you think about quality-of-life issues,” he said.

Heltzel’s widow, Rosemary, stood with Commissioner Frank Fuda as Fuda read a resolution naming the segment after Heltzel, Fuda’s longtime colleague.

Svette said the Lake to River Greenway, expected some day to run from Lake Erie to the Ohio River at East Liverpool, now has 47 miles of completed trails.

Phase three cost about $2 million, with the county contributing $89,160 of that and the rest coming from grants, said Julie Green, county grants coordinator.

The last county section left to build will connect the southern end of the Warren Bikeway at Burton Street with the Niles Greenway. It will be three to four miles long and cost about $3 million, Svette said.

The county will need to acquire about $400,000 to provide the matching money for that section, he said.

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