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Grant extension buys time for bike-path plan

As signatures are being gathered on petitions to place the controversial bike path issue on the ballot, the city of Perrysburg has bought itself some time.

Perrysburg's request for an extension on a $180,000 grant, earmarked for a bike path along Indiana Avenue, has been granted, said Doug Guest, the city's planning and zoning administrator.

The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments has agreed to hold the grant for a year, said Diane Reamer-Evans, transportation planner for TMACOG. The grant was allocated for the fiscal year ending June 30, which meant that there was a chance the city would have to forfeit the funds while residents and officials discuss and debate the bike path issue.

Council recently defeated a measure to advertise for bids for the bike path along Indiana Avenue, reversing earlier support for the project.

City officials have decided to start working on a bike facilities master plan. The plan is to be drawn up during the next several months.

TMACOG representatives “said they will hold the $180,000 for a year to give us a chance to get the bike facilities plan done,” said Mr. Guest. “If we come back with Indiana as a route we can use that $180,000.”

If an alternate route is selected, then the city would wind up back in the ranking system, Mr. Guest said. “I think that is the best we can hope for,” he said, adding that the TMACOG officials have been “very cooperative and very helpful.”

Several public meetings will be held during the bike facilities plan process, and a citizens' committee will steer the process, Mr. Guest said.

A consultant will be hired to organize the public participation, handle technical aspects, and draft the master plan.

Meanwhile, residents who support plans to construct a bike path in the city are collecting signatures on petitions in an effort to place the bikeway issue on the ballot.

Gary Samples, a former Perrysburg city council member, said that he has gathered 70 signatures. About 450 signatures are needed on the initiative petitions, but Mr. Samples said he is aiming for 600.

So far, he has had “very few turn downs” while gathering signatures. “People are in much favor of bike paths,” Mr. Samples said.

The petition drive should be completed within two weeks, he said, and if the filing deadline can be met, the issue could be placed on the May ballot.

Residents would vote on whether the city should proceed with the construction of a bike path beginning at Woodlands Park and ending near the new Maumee-Perrysburg bridge, taking as direct route as possible, Mr. Samples said.

The route would be flexible, he said, and would not have to follow the path that had been considered along Indiana Avenue.

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