BAINBRIDGE — Though the need to replace a playground at River Road Park has dominated recent meetings, trustees noted that the walking trails at this and other township parks need upgrades.

“We’re very fortunate to have accessible and well-used walking trails in the township,” Trustee Lorrie Benza said.

Last winter, a resident asked the township to shovel the trail access areas in Centerville Mills Park, showing use even during cold spells.

“We have an obligation to maintain the trails,” Mrs. Benza said. Work on the asphalt trail in River Road Park was budgeted for 2020 as part of a five-year plan for township projects. The estimated cost is $125,000 to repave the trail and upgrade the drainage. It is deteriorating, crackling and crumbling, especially along the edges, Mrs. Benza said.

But the trail upgrade may be delayed until 2021, depending on if residents and the township can come up with money to replace the playground, officials said.

Last week, residents indicated that they formed a citizens group to raise money to replace River Road Park playground that was deemed unsafe and razed.

“I see township parks as a significant quality of life enhancement,” Mrs. Benza said. “Every community needs a place to come together where kids can play safely. But when the money runs out and you don’t have the resources, like income taxes and other revenue, the question is how do you fund those things?” she said. “I don’t like asking for more property taxes,” she said of levies.

She added she is thrilled with the residents who have shown interest in helping to raise funds for the playground at River Road.

Bainbridge Trustee Jeff Markley noted the 4-foot-wide asphalt trail will be expensive to repair. Because the 1.25 mile trail is breaking apart, workers will have to redo the entire pathway, Mr. Markley said.

Asphalt was determined as the most economical material to use, he said, since concrete is more expensive and gravel results in weeds and maintenance.

Drainage has been an issue there, and was addressed when the trail was built, Mr. Markley said. Then when houses in the Canyon Lakes community were built just above and to the east of the park boundary, drainage changed, but it can be dealt with, he said. “There are plenty of drain pipes and infrastructure there,” Mr. Markley noted.

He has used the trail at River Road Park several times, and added, “I’m told the trail is used a lot.” Clearly people are always on the path, in the morning and afternoon. When kids are practicing on the athletic fields at the park, many parents use the trails. “There’s a use for every season at the park,” he noted of walking, jogging and cross-country skiing in the winter. “It’s pretty versatile,” he said.

In other township parks, there are trails at Centerville Mills Park off Crackel Road. The trails consist of wood chips, Mr. Markley said. “It is used by dog walkers, cross-country trainers and jogging,” Mr. Markley said. “The trails at Centerville Mills and at River Road are very well-used,” he said.

He added there is a roadway connecting Settlers Park and the township’s Restland Cemetery.

“There are definitely places to walk, and River Road is different with its asphalt. It is good for jogging and is accessible for those with disabilities,” he noted.

The trails are maintained with the township’s general fund, Mr. Markley said of the trails, parking lots, playgrounds and sports fields. “It all comes from the general fund pot.”

Bainbridge Service Director Jim Stanek said with no sidewalks in the township, the trails in the parks offer a safe opportunity for walkers and joggers to exercise.

“We make an effort to keep the trail at River Road Park cleared with a tractor and snow blower so it can be used in the winter time,” Mr. Stanek said. They also plow the roadway at Settlers Park so people can walk it in the winter.

“They are more used than they used to be,” Mr. Stanek said of the park trails. With the dog park now at Centerville Mills Park, more people are coming out and discovering the walking paths.

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