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Mayor drops bike trail plan

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Larry Fey, his granddaughter Megan Howard, and Betty Erdmann, front row, applaud the demise of the proposed bike path, which would have wound through their neighborhood.

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Residents of Beechway Boulevard in South Toledo cheered yesterday when a Finkbeiner administration official declared the obvious: The planned 2 1/2-mile bike path is dead.

"Thanks to the administration for listening to us," said Bob Wittel, Jr., who lives on Beechway in the Beverly neighborhood. "I'd like to have seen it a little sooner."

Donald Moline, assistant chief operating officer for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, told City Council's youth, parks, and recreation committee the administration had dropped its plans to spend $600,000 to pave a path through Beechway, Wildwood, and Harvard boulevards.

Dennis Garvin, the city's acting director of parks, recreation, and forestry, said the administration is committed to bikeways, but he said that the lack of public support was clear after bus tours and a public hearing.

"The current alignment will not serve the community or the administration as well as we had hoped," Mr. Garvin said.

Yesterday's council committee meeting originally was to consider an ordinance to spend $800,000 on two bike paths - the South Toledo route and a shorter path in Point Place.

With the South Toledo plan out of the way, the hearing focused on other bike routes, or whether to use the $800,000 for bike paths at all.

Councilman Joe Birmingham, whose district includes Point Place, called on the administration to move forward quickly with a half-mile paved path from Cullen Park to the new Point Place Lighthouse on Summit Street. The trail is projected to cost $175,000.

Mr. Garvin said the administration is still committed to expanding Toledo's network of bike paths, now said to be 17 miles.

He said the administration is excited about a route that would follow the former Olive Branch railroad bed from Miami Street at the south entrance of International Park, across Main Street and along Front Street, to the Craig Memorial Bridge, with an eventual spur into the Marina District. The Craig bridge will have a bike lane after the new I-280 span opens.

Richard Ruppert, Toledo Rotary Club president, promised Rotary support for an International Park loop that would provide an accessible biking, jogging, and walking path for visitors in downtown or Marina District hotels.

Mr. Garvin said the administration is developing a bike path in River Road Park, formerly Brookford Park, which is being restored since a covered storm water detention basin was installed. Also planned is the designation of River Road as a "Share the Road" route that would welcome bike riders from Maumee to Walbridge Park.

Councilman George Sarantou, who was in New York City meeting with bond rating agencies for the city, issued at statement saying that capital improvement dollars should be spent only on projects that create jobs.

Councilman Betty Shultz said she won't support money for bike trails until the city replaces its obsolete financial services software.

Mr. Birmingham said the city's total capital improvements budget is $29 million, of which $1.6 million is earmarked for parks projects.

In response to concerns about tall grass in city parks and boulevards, Mr. Garvin said the department has bought 14 mowing machines, at a cost of $210,000, and hired 10 utility workers to speed up the mowing schedule.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.

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