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City Council proposes a new addition to the bike path

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Cycling enthusiasts and hikers who live near Columbus Road will be pleased with a new addition that is in the planning stages and was moved into the next stage of readings during Monday’s City Council meeting.

Introduced by Third Ward Rep. Michele Papai, a proposed ordinance would create an extension of the bike path from Columbus Road, across the Hocking River to Armitage Road. The proposed path, called the “Spike Spur”, will stretch over a mile.

“There was no good way to connect to that side of Athens because of the river,” Papai said. “It was a geographic problem.”

The city has been given a federal grant of $735,000 and they received a state grant of $550,000. The city will be responsible for the rest of the building costs, which will total $140,000, but they have assured that they will not raise residents’ taxes to cover those costs.

“To get the grant, we had to coordinate all of the different groups that would have access to the path,” Papai said.

Those groups included Ohio University, which has many students who will likely use the new addition to the bike path.

“I think it will be highly used for recreation,” Papai said. “But, there will also be some people who come in on [highway] 550 or Columbus Road who may also want to access the other parts of town.”

The planning process, which Papai and Fourth Ward Rep. Chris Fahl said was very interactive and very citizen driven, has taken a long time to get to this point.

“I’ve been on council three years and this started before I was even on council,” Papai said. “It started six years ago, maybe longer. These steps take a really long time to put into implementation, so we hope next fall to have the Spike Spur completed.”

The ordinance secures the plans to build and allows the city to be the coordinator for the project rather than contracting a larger entity to do the work. Papai said they were happy to be able to do the work in-house, with the Athens City Public Works Department. Fahl added, building in-house saves money in the long-run.

“I think it’ll just be another accessible recreational area,” Papai said. “We hope to develop an area for parking. We anticipate that people who like to bike out to Strouds Run State Park will be able to go straight out to the park without having to go through the middle of town.”

The ordinance was in its first of three readings and will be available for discussion in future council meetings.

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