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City council committee members consider new bike trail

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City Council committee members discussed the Baileys bike trail, an ODOT grant, and various appropriations at its meeting Monday.

Athens City Council committee members discussed the planned Baileys bike trail and its proposed council of governments at its meeting Monday night.

The Baileys Mountain Bike Trail System would be around 88 miles long and cost around $10 million to build. It would connect to the Hocking Adena Bikeway, Strouds Run State Park, and Sells park.

The proposed council of governments, officially titled the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia Council of Governments, would oversee the Baileys bike trail project and other outdoor recreation projects, and member governments of the council would also pay for portions of the project.

City council members discussed using new market tax credits and the transient guest tax — a tax paid by visitors staying in hotels — to pay for the city and county’s estimated $1.2 million share of the funding.

New market tax credits allow private investors to receive a federal income tax credit in exchange for investing in certain community development projects.

The council of government would be composed of representatives from Athens County, Ohio University, the state of Ohio, Nelsonville, Athens, Chauncey, Dover Township, and York Township.

The village of Buchtel would also be on the council but was not listed in the current version of the agreement.

Partnership and Community Engagement Specialist from the U.S. Forest Service Dawn McCarthy discussed the future of the council of governments at the meeting Monday.

“We’re looking at the council of governments helping us create a vehicle to where local governments can work together, not just on the Baileys project but across boundaries, potentially into Sells city park and Strouds Run State Park,” McCarthy said.

At-Large Representative Peter Kotses recused himself from the discussion of the council of governments because he owns property in one of the villages in the agreement.

Kotses described his feelings toward his recusal at the meeting on Monday.

“Part of me feels like it’s frustrating because I do have knowledge that I can provide the council about this project, but I believe that there are many people here that can provide a lot of the same information,” Kotses said.

The transportation committee also discussed allowing the mayor to apply for Transportation Improvement District funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Additionally, the Finance and Personnel Committee discussed appropriating funds to replace broken video surveillance cameras in the Athens Police Department, among other appropriations and transfers.

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