By CARL E. FEATHER - Staff Writer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Meetings will be held next week to start planning for construction of a paved bike trail at Geneva State Park.
Ashtabula County commissioners on Thursday approved the bid of Mr. Excavator, a Kirtland company, for the project. Mr. Excavator’s base bid of $325,105 was the lowest of the nine bids received. Commissioners also approved three enhancements, which bring the total package to $427,454.
The county has $300,000 in a Clean Ohio Trail Grant and $100,000 in a community development block grant to fund the project. The Ashtabula County Convention Facilities Authority has committed up to $50,000 to the project, as well.
Janice Switzer, program manager for Ashtabula County Recyling and Community Services, said she wants to get moving on the project as soon as possible to avoid the need for an Indiana bat habitat survey. The bat nests when foliage is on the trees. If tree removal for the project occurs prior to April 15, the survey won’t be required, and the project can move toward an early-summer completion date.
Switzer plans to meet with representatives of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ashtabula County Engineer’s Office and the excavator to discuss the trail’s route through the woodlands. ODNR wants the trail to avoid certain trees.
Commissioners gave the trail project high marks, as well as Switzer’s effort to bring it to fruition. They cited the impact of the Western Reserve Trail on tourism and improving the quality of life for residents as evidence for the value of building a lake-shore path.
“This is quite an investment in this area and will be quite an amenity for people who come to the county,” said Commissioner Daniel Claypool.
“New trails are always worthwhile,” added Commissioner Joseph Moroski.