Late last year the name of the Big Walnut Community Trail was formally changed to the Sandel Legacy Trail. Also last year, Preservation Parks of Delaware County, owner of the trail, applied for an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trail Program grant to lengthen and pave the trail, but the grant request was denied.
Preservation Parks plans to resubmit the grant request, with a few changes, and has asked the Village of Sunbury to join in the request as a partner to strengthen the grant request.
Preservation Parks Senior Park Planner Matt Simpson and Preservation Parks Executive Director Tom Curtin held an open house on the second floor of Sunbury Town Hall last Wednesday (Jan. 18), immediately preceding the regularly scheduled Sunbury Village Council meeting. The open house was held to showcase Preservation Parks’ modified Sandel Legacy Trail paving and extension grant request.
Following the open house, Simpson and Curtin both attended Sunbury’s council meeting seeking needed village support before the February 1 grant deadline.
“This project is part of the Ohio to Erie Trail, Sandel Legacy Trail section that’s 0.6 miles currently,” Simpson told council members. “The improvements will be 0.9 miles. The project consists of paving our existing gravel trail, extending it about 500 feet to approximately Vernon Street.”
Simpson said that Preservation Parks is also proposing to construct the trail from East Cherry Street to Walnut Street.
Simpson said the estimated total cost of the project is approximately $257,000; the grant can fund up to $150,000 with the remaining $107,000 coming from Preservation Parks funds.
“Our grant request was turned down, but we had good feedback from the ODNR,” Simpson said. “We’re reworking the grant application to make it stronger. We fell short on partnerships, and we’re asking for your support. A letter of support would help, and we would accept financial support in any amount.”
Curtin added that any level of partnering with Preservation Parks would enhance the grant application. He specifically mentioned engineering assistance and other in-kind services, and the village liaising with Pulte Homes for creating connections to the Sunbury Meadows trail system on property not controlled by Preservation Parks.
Simpson said the Sandel Legacy Trail paving and extension project would benefit the Sunbury community by improving access for school children, cyclists, walkers, persons with disabilities, and families with strollers.
“In general, last year’s grant application was close,” Simpson said. “They gave us some pointers — partnerships and adding new pavement will help get us more points.”
Council member Scott Weatherby, who serves on council’s Parks & Safety Committee, said he believes that Sunbury residents would support partnering with Preservation Parks for enhancements of the Sandel Legacy Trail.
“I’m personally inclined to support something like this,” Weatherby said. “Our recent Parks and Recreation Survey indicated that people in Sunbury and the surrounding area would support developing our parks and trails.”
Council members approved a motion to immediately craft a letter of support for Preservation Parks Sandel Legacy Trail paving and extension grant request, with any in-kind and financial contribution to be determined at a later date.
Sunbury Village Solicitor David Brehm recommended examining the project’s formal plans to determine any in-kind assistance the village could provide to either enhance the project or lower project costs.
“This would help move trail users to our village square,” Brehm said.
Simpson said that ODNR Recreational Trail grants are awarded in November. If Preservation Parks’ Sandel Legacy Trail paving and extension project grant request is approved, engineering would begin immediately with project construction during the summer of 2018.
“This is a great project,” Simpson added. “It would become a great resource for Sunbury.”
In other business, Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said with Heath Police Department Sergeant Norman Ream pulling out of the search for a new Sunbury PD Chief, Hatfield and Sunbury Village Administrator Alan Rothermel are reviewing applications from the search short list and scheduling a new round of interviews.
It was also noted that the Cherry Street sewer line project has been broken out of the plans for the 5 Columbus Street parking lot project. Breaking that part of the project out allows the sewer line to be installed before the Ohio Department of Transportation repaves State Route 37 through the village later this year.
In chambers for last Wednesday’s council session were members of Cub Scout Pack 387. The Cub Scouts were fulfilling Arrow of Light Badge requirements before becoming Boy Scouts.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.