By Wayne Allen
October 16, 2013
Common Staff Writer
What started out as a concept to designate a bike path for people of the area to enjoy has taken steps to tentatively be realized as a part of the community.
Representatives of the Shawnee Recreation Trail, Inc., are meeting with members of the city of Portsmouth’s Economic Development and Sustainability Committee to inform them about recent developments.
Barb Bradbury, Shawnee Recreation Trail spokeswoman, said this concept dates back about seven years.
“Our idea was to have (bike) path from Second Street to Earl Thomas Conley Park in West Portsmouth, that would go over the historic old stone road, through the bottom road and through the final lock of the Ohio Erie Canal. It was a great concept, even though it (the path) would flood,” Bradbury said.
She said it’s not uncommon to have bike trails that are subject to flooding.
“We ran into some bumps along the road and did not have clear access at the point where it would meet Second Street. So, it kind of died,” Bradbury said.
Bradbury said the group had attempted a number of times over the years to bring the concept back to life. She said the initial group was able to raise about $50,000 that will likely be put to use with the current concept.
“We talked with some of the contributors about what should be done with the money and they encouraged us to give it one more try. So, earlier this year we pulled together and made the announcement that we were going forward with a renewed effort,” Bradbury said.
Bradbury said after a few public meetings it was clear to organizers there was interest from the community for such a trail to exist.
“I think there is interest from the community because a lot of factors that exist within our community such as obesity, poor health and our health rankings,” Bradbury said. “After some conversations we decided a different route to go for the immediate future. We wanted to go in the city.”
She said the thought was to help make Portsmouth a bicycle-friendly community.
Part of the groups efforts would require the education of residents when it comes to awareness and respect for bicyclists and to help drivers realize that the road needs to be shared.
Bradbury said the purpose of Wednesday’s meeting would be to show some of the economic advantages of having designated bike trails.
“We will be talking with that committee about the economic benefits to developing bike routes in town,” Bradbury said. “We hope to give them a good idea of the concept. It’s not to talk about money and it’s not to talk about nuts and bolts. We are going to present the idea and how it can help with economic development.”
She said in November the group will meet with a budget and finance committee for the same purposes.
The ultimate plan would be to approach Portsmouth City Council from Capital Improvement Project funding.
The concept has a number of different paths that, according to Bradbury, plan to be phased in over a span of several years.
At the last meeting of the Shawnee Recreation Trail the concept received a name, Portsmouth Connex.
“In one of the early meetings I urged the group to put a name behind this concept,” said Wendi Waugh, Media Committee chairwoman. “Last month (September) I though for sure I had it nailed (a name), with Wellness Way.”
Waugh said after some discussion it was decided it should be called Portsmouth Connex.
“The purpose of this whole concept would be to encourage people to get moving,” Waugh said.
The group holds meetings every month to discuss the concept with the next meeting scheduled for Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Center For International Programs and Activities on the campus of Shawnee State University.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-1151, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.