Home City City Council discusses Baileys Trail System

City Council discusses Baileys Trail System

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City Council entertained a lively discussion between Athens residents, councilmembers and stakeholders Monday surrounding the planned Baileys Trail System.

The trail system, which recently broke ground in Chauncey, is a major bike path spur and tourist destination. 

The Baileys is expected to draw between 125,000 and 235,000 mountain bikers to the area per year, according to the outcome-based capital firm Quantified Ventures — the company responsible for structuring the Baileys financial plan, according to a previous report by The New Political.

Todd Swearingen, a Guysville resident, spoke at the meeting and raised concerns during the second reading of a proposed ordinance to provide financial assistance through the city’s transient guest tax, or a tax on hotels.

He spoke about what he perceived to be a lack of effort by those who designed the project  in attempting to make the project carbon neutral.

Carbon neutrality is the effort to create businesses and institutions that do not increase the amount of carbon — a factor in global warming — in the environment.

He doubted that carbon offset, as he called it, would even be possible, citing the fact that people would have to travel in vehicles that use fossil fuels in order to visit the trail system.

Swearingen speculated that the project will ultimately consume more carbon than the bike path could potentially remove from the atmosphere.

“It’s a bicycle trail, bicycle trails are supposed to be green,” he said. “But, sure enough … people put their bike on a bike rack and travel thirty miles. Bicycling is not immune to carbon debt. Whether it be on a city trail, Baileys trail — any trail.”

Debbie Phillips, the CEO of Rural Action, a nonprofit that works to sustainably develop the economy in southeast Ohio, was among the proponents of the Baileys spur who spoke and answered questions from councilmembers at the meeting. She described how old trees can help offset the carbon accrued by cars traveling to the Baileys.

“There’s recognition about the tremendous value that older standing trees have and helping to mitigate carbon impact,” Phillips said. “So if it’s a question that councils interest Studying exploring, I think the scientific thinking and understanding around and is it’s worth talking about.”

She also described how the bike spur offers the county and region an opportunity to diversify the economy.

Councilmember Jeffrey Risner sponsored the ordinance. In response to Swearingen’s comments, Risner said he had not considered this aspect of the bike trail.

“I’ll be truthful, I hadn’t thought about the carbon footprint at all,” Risner said. “I can see where he’s coming from, and stop there and reflect if I’m not within biking distance of the trail, I have to put (my bike) in my car.”

Risner, however, doubted the bike trail would be a significant source of a carbon footprint. He said an individual car already has had its lifetime carbon footprint factored into statistics, so it is difficult to calculate a cost-benefit analysis, he said.

Ultimately, Risner said he is unsure if there is a readily available solution.

“What do we do about it?” Risner said to this reporter. “I’m listening.”

Editor’s note: A previous edition of this article incorrectly stated that Todd Swearingen claimed City Council had not done enough to make The Baileys Trail System carbon offset. The current edition has been updated to reflect that he intended to mean those who designed the project.

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One Comment

  1. Todd Swearingen

    October 22, 2019 at 7:31 PM

    “[Risner] said an individual car already has had its lifetime carbon footprint factored into statistics.” That’s technically not possible. And even if it were, calculating carbon debt statistically is an entirely different endeavor compared to offsetting the carbon debt. No one knows how many gallons of fuel will be consumed by each car over its life cycle, or the driving habits of the hyper-miler, speed freak, gear head or nun behind the wheel. 12,000 miles per year? 22,000? 2,000?
    And estimating the carbon debt of a car’s manufacture is at best an educated WAG, with materials and parts from almost endless sources on multiple continents, traveling by plane, train and pack mule. Dollars on accounting ledgers don’t equate well to pounds of CO2. Which is in large part why we’re in this mess, as few governments care to address the true cost of energy.
    As for “older trees” somehow being a mitigating agent of carbon debt? Every tree on the planet is already working overtime absorbing carbon and humanity is still losing ground. Venerating them and studying what they’re already doing won’t offset increasing carbon debt, whether it’s from a new Baileys Mountain Bike Trail or Space Force.

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