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08-17-06 Pedaling into time and money problems

By Tim Cox

  Celina's proposed bike path extension has suffered a delay and is facing a money crunch to pay for design work.

  City administration officials this week sought an additional $10,000 to hire local design firm Fanning/Howey to do some last-minute work that needs finished to meet an Ohio Department of Transportation deadline.

  ODOT is providing $454,000 in funding toward the project to extend the Celina-Coldwater bike path from Schunk Road north through the city to Livingston Street.

  Further grant money that is pending with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources could pay for the path to be extended all the way to Touvelle Street. The fate of that grant application will be learned next month.

  Some Celina City Council members had complained about spending general fund tax revenue on a bike path project when the city has other pressing needs. Administration officials respond-ed by securing a donation from the charitable Bryson Trust and agreed to do as much of the design work in-house as possible.  City development consultant Kent Bryan said this week that employees in the engineering department are bogged down with other important work and will not be able to complete the work in time. He suggested hiring Fanning/Howey to get the job done.

  Councilman Ed Jeffries, long a critic of the bike path project, successfully blocked the extra spending because he would not vote for an emergency resolution. With Councilman Collin Bryan absent from the meeting, council members could not muster the required three-fourths supermajority needed to pass emergency legislation.

  Bryan said he would discuss the snag with ODOT officials and hopefully get an extension.

  "We'll just have to keep working on the pace we're on and work with ODOT," Kent Bryan said.

  City administration officials previously had convinced some skeptical council members to come on board with the project by pointing to the amenities included in the work other than the bike path. The project calls for a new restroom facility in North Shore Park and a new parking area. Those facilities will benefit the park and community events that are hosted on the lakefront, including the concert in the parks series, Freedom Days, the Celina Lake Festival and the Governor's Cup regatta races, city officials say.


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