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Riverfront trail meeting scheduled

The city of Ironton is hosting a public meeting to share plans and take comments about a proposed riverfront trail from 12:30-6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 24, at the Ironton Fire Department.

Phase one of the trail — from Second Street at Storms Creek to the old marina area — is complete and Monday’s open-house meeting is a chance for anyone interested to see conceptual drawings of phase two, which is from Storms Creek to Center Street, and discuss the project.

The trail is a shared walking and bike trail with portions running on top and beside the floodwall. Construction on phase one began this past April.

“It’s just a part of the whole,” Blankenship said. “People often ask ‘Why trails?’ and I tell them trails are vital to improving our riverfront and using it as a recreational area and enhancing it in preparation for future development.”

The city is developing the project in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission. The shared-use bike and walking trail ultimately will run from the Transit Center on Second Street, pass through the existing floodwall opening and continue west to the North Second Street Bridge over Storms Creek.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016.

Four grants are in place for the overall project and the bicycle and walking trail is progressing because of $100,000 in grant money administered through the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s (ODNR) NatureWorks program.

“All of our grants are working together in order to reach our objective,” Blankenship said. “A key component of any project is having the grants in place, and even then these things take time.”

Of the four grants, two are through ODNR. One is a Clean Ohio Trail grant and the other is through the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife. Blankenship said another grant application has been submitted to ODNR.

“A $208,000 match has been appropriated by the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation (LEDC),” he said. “Getting 100 percent of the money is rare when the amount is large. We can and will offer in-kind matches of labor and things like that as well.”

A grant from the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission will be used to develop later phases of the shared trail system.

“We are looking as thoroughly into the trail system’s future phases as we are all other phases and all other projects,” Blankenship said. “We have to determine what material to pave with, what type of lighting to install and where to put benches, among other things.”

After the meeting, comments can be submitted to the city until Dec. 15 by mail at Ironton City Center, 301 S. Third St. P.O. Box 704, Ironton OH 45638.