GREENVILLE — A Friend of the Darke County Parks Sandy Hoying attended the Darke County Park District Regular Board Meeting July 10 to voice her opinion about preserving the Tecumseh Trail and Bikeway.
“We want this bike trail to last for a long time and serve this community for a long time,” she said.
Connecting Darke County with the other Miami Valley Bike Pathways, the Tecumseh Trail will bring in a whole new community of outdoor enthusiasts to the county, according to Darke County Parks Director Roger Van Frank.
“With the goal of connecting Bradford to Greenville to Union City, this trail will bring with it a wealth of outdoor opportunities to the citizens of Darke County,” he said.
Hoying said she attended the 2017 Miami Valley Biking Summit May 5. The Miami Valley Cycling Summit, an event of Bike Miami Valley, aims to use the power of cycling to drive economic development in communities both large and small throughout the region.
“I am concerned about the future of Tecumseh Trail,” Hoying said. “There was a recurring theme at the summit called “Complete Streets”. It has everything to do with signage and trying to get businesses involved. I am trying to get people to think. I’ve been a member of the community for a long time, but I am not a mover and shaker. I want us to take a look to the future of what we can do.”
Also, Hoying explained a couple of personal incidents on N. Broadway Street, in Greenville, that reinforced to her that folks are not sure of the rules of the road for bicycles. In both incidents she said she was following the rules on her bicycle and people yelled at her from their cars to get off of the road.
“People are uneducated out here about that,” she said. “I don’t want other people coming into our community getting harassed for doing exactly what they should be doing on their bicycles.
Parks Commissioner Roger Brocious said the kids need some education about bicycling the roads so they will grow up understanding the rules.
“This is part of the reason we have built trails,” Van Frank said of the district. “It is not always safe on the roads and it provides another form of transportation across the county. How can we get from Bradford to Union City? It was 2005 when we started this and Steve Shaltry (retired Darke County Parks Board Commissioner) and I went to that first Rails to Trails meeting held in the classroom. Their thought process was to have it completed by the year 2020, and I am sitting there going, ‘Oh my gosh, that is 15 years away’. Now it is three years away and we are close to completing their vision. Someone who needs to be recognized for his laborious efforts in the last three – four years is Jim Surber (Darke County engineer). If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have what we have now, and are continuing to receive.”
The Tecumseh Trail is about 10 miles along towards the approximately 18 mile finished product, according to Van Frank. According to Darke County Park District Administrative Assistant Deb Shiverdecker about $3 million in grant money and in-kind donations has been invested into the trail project so far. Van Frank explained that every dollar of grant money equals between $3 – $5 of spending in the communities where the trail is being built.
“It makes a difference and helps surrounding businesses,” he said. “It continues to give back.”
“Look at the communities who have done the bike trail and how they have prospered,” Brocious said. “That is what we want for Darke County.”
According to Van Frank the Darke County Park District is just finishing Phase Four, completing that up to the overpass on State Route 127. This is a double bridge overpass right beside the bridge creek, about 4,000 feet before the railroad overpass. The first section of Phase Five has just begun. It can be seen going up the hill adjacent to State Route 127 going south, where a concrete path to the top of the hill is visible. Then, it will go across an easement, which will carry the trail over to Sebring Warner Road, which is about 1,400 feet away.
“We are in the process of getting that finalized and will get the plans together,” Van Frank said. “Phase Five will carry us all the way into town to Alice Bish Park on N. Ohio Street, in Greenville. We will continue to pick up where the Greenville Creek Trail was built, in 2004. It is very exciting to see the progress – we are very excited.”
To see a new addition to the trail, visit the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities at 5844 Jaysville-St. Johns Road, in Greenville. The parking lot has two signs that say “Trail Parking Only.” Go down the trail about a quarter mile to dead-end into the addition.