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03-01-06 Plans are changing for extension of Coldwater-Celina bike pathway

By Tim Cox

  At least part of the proposed extension of the Celina-Coldwater bike path into the city of Celina will be built, although some city officials remain skeptical of the overall bike path plan.

  The city already has received a $454,000 Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) grant to extend the path from its current ending point at Schunk Road to Livingston Street in the center of town. A second round of grants would allow the city to extend the path all the way to Touvelle Street, following an abandoned railroad line.

  City officials questioned the bike path project at this week's council meeting.

  Councilwoman Angie King asked if the path was connected to the proposal to redevelop the former Mersman Furniture Co. into a residential tract.

  City consultant Kent Bryan said the path would enhance that neighborhood because the extension would go past the former Mersman complex, but said the two projects are not connected. City officials have long anticipated extending the path, which was the reason for acquiring the old railroad line several years ago, he said.  Councilman Ed Jeffries also expressed concerns about the project. Jeffries said a proposed spur of the path along Washington Street that would connect the main path to the lakefront is flawed. Running the path along that street would deny three residents the use of the street in front of their homes for parking, he said. There is no alley to serve the homes from the rear.

  Jeffries also questioned the wisdom of running the path along Mackinaw Street, a recently rebuilt stretch of road with no homes on the east side. The street is suitable for bicycling, without the path, he said.

  "I think the whole thing is poorly laid out," Jeffries said.

  Bryan said design issues will be worked out during the planning stages. Engineers will study the Washington Street issue and come up with a solution, he said.

  "In every project we do, there's numbers of reasons why we can't do something," Bryan said. "There's not a perfect route down there, but we're going to look at the options."

  "The plan should be fully thought out when the plan is brought to the table," King said.

  The path will provide a safer alternative to riding on city streets, Bryan said. The path will be well-lit and marked with signs, Bryan said.

  City officials are in the process of seeking an engineering firm to design the proposed extension of the path.


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