In response to questions from residents and council members, Avon City Council decided to have three full readings before authorizing $50,000 in engineering work to develop a $1.4 million 10-foot-wide walking-biking trail along the entirety of French Creek on the city's West Side. The second reading will be Aug. 10.

The trail is part of a plan in conjunction with Sheffield Village and Lorain County Metro Parks, with funding through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency's Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative, to create safe walking and biking pathways throughout the region. It will be the first of its kind in Avon. Residents have expressed interest in seeing the city develop more walking-biking paths in the city.

The proposed trail would be buffered by 6 to 8 feet of tree lawn to keep pedestrians separated from cars and trucks.

Council planned to pass the ordinance July 13 to get the project started, something most council members and Mayor Bryan Jensen agree is important.

Councilperson-At-Large Tammy Holtzmeier raised several questions she received from residents. Among them, French Creek residents wanted to know who was responsible for snow removal on the path and maintenance of the asphalt over time. Law Director John Gasior said he would need to look into any potential liability for homeowners. There also was discussion about whether the city would need to pay for maintenance of the asphalt trail. Holtzmeier said she had reservations about building a 10-foot-wide path in front of residences.

City Engineer Ryan Cummins explained the initial engineering work officials hoped to complete this year would simply get the project started. More engineering work would need to be completed in 2021 and construction would not begin until 2023 to give the city time to secure additional grant funding for the project. The NOACA grant is for $250,000 and the $50,000 in engineering work under consideration would come from that grant.

Jensen noted that Sheffield Village has already installed a concrete path from the border of the two communities to the Metro Parks French Creek Reservation in the center of Sheffield Village. He said the two communities are expected to collaborate on joint grant applications to complete the project.

He went on to say he understood waiting a short time to get questions answered, but also urged council to do that quickly, in part, because residents made it known they expect the city to make these types of improvements.

Council President Brian Fischer suggested having three readings of the ordinance instead of one. “We need to get moving forward and make a decision one way or the other. With no objections, we will make it a first reading tonight.”

Council work sessions typically begin at 7 p.m. with council meetings starting immediately afterward, around 7:30 p.m. The second reading will take place during council’s Aug. 10 meeting.

There was discussion, but no decision, about holding a parks and recreation meeting earlier that evening. Holtzmeier said if COVID-19 is under control, perhaps residents would feel comfortable attending the meeting to ask questions.

Contact freelance writer Michele Murphy at avonlakemurphy@gmail.com.

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