Avon/Avon Lake

By Nicole Hennessy

Avon is one of many cities currently looking at how to improve its bike path connectivity.

While the city’s 1992 master plan does mention bike paths, no mention of the paths were made in recent master plan updates. In a report prepared by Paul Burik, who recently stepped down as the vice chairman of the city’s Park and Recreation Commission, possible updates to the original bike path plan were outlined.

This can often be more difficult than just planning a route and destinations to connect. Land must be designated for the project.

“Assembly of land for a long, linear park is … challenging,” Burik wrote. “However, often this work is done by utilities, railroads, etc. and can be benefited from by the affected community.”

Burik noted that Avon Lake’s NRG Energy is planning to install a gas line through Avon, which presents an opportunity for the city to negotiate the installation along the gas line – which must procure easements and a right-of-way – a move that would save the city from completing a similar task.

While NRG says it is still planning on installing the pipeline and preparations to do so are still underway, the project was suspended indefinitely earlier this month.

Utilizing the electric utility right-of-way, important connections along the path would be locations such as the French Creek Family YMCA as well as to several destinations and parks in Avon, Avon Lake and Sheffield Lake, including Avon Lake’s Lake Road path, a route that is receiving its own update that involves shifting the road slightly north. An all-purpose trail would then be located on the south side of the street.

This portion of the Avon Lake’s drafted project would impact 189 homeowners and cost $30.44 million.

An alternate plan, which would not require the road shift, would cost significantly less – $19.14 million.

On Lear Road, which will most directly connect to the Cleveland Clinic, two plans are being considered, as well.

Currently, Avon is very early in its brainstorming process. Avon Lake city officials has said Cleveland Clinic has been considering the possibility of paying for a portion of the Lear Road trail.

While several new and updated roads and bridges planned for Avon can or already include plans for bike paths and negotiations with organizations like NRG are possible, some of the cost for new paths would inevitably fall on the city.

City officials have begun talks with the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) to determine if the project could qualify for grants.

Another way in which the city could save money is by requiring or working with future developers to install bike paths, since they are already required to install roads and sidewalks to accommodate their projects.

A footnote added to Burik’s report also mentioned a non-bike-related item: an “art park,” which would include outdoor art and historic or commemorative pieces in the aquatic facility/city center area.

“Such installations elevate the community perception and values,” Burik explained.

While these suggestions are not yet past the brainstorming phase, the potential for increased bike paths within the city will be the main agenda item for the Nov. 12 Avon Parks & Recreation Commission, which starts at 7 p.m. and is located at 36080 Chester Road.

Contact Nicole Hennessy at nicohenness@gmail.com

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