Chardon city took a step back last week in its hope of seeing the final leg of a citywide trail being completed this year.

City Manager Randal Sharpe informed City Council that hopes of beginning work this fall to start building the second leg of the trail in time for use next spring have been dashed.

“There are multiple things working against us,” Mr. Sharpe told council.

The second leg of the trail was expected to proceed from Water Street (Route 6) to South Street (Route 44). The city now has a trail from Fifth Avenue to Water Street that was completed two years ago.

Mr. Sharpe explained that a deal to obtain a former railroad line, owned by CSX, has yet to be finalized. The city had difficulty initially getting the company to respond to its requests before getting help from U.S. Rep. David Joyce, R-Bainbridge, about two months ago. Although the company agreed to sell the property, paperwork for the sale has yet to be finalized, Mr. Sharpe said.

An easement has yet to be obtained that is needed to do grading work along the trail, Mr. Sharpe said. Once all those agreements are in place, the city’s plans for the trail must meet with the approval of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“We will continue to try to get it to go,” Mr. Sharpe said.

Just a month ago, hope had been high of seeing work on the trail begin this year.

Project overseer Michelle Johnson, director of community planning and design for the Environmental Design Group, appeared before the Chardon Planning Commission with a concept plan for the last 0.86-mile leg that would complete the trail.

Once complete, the trail will include three trail heads, a restroom and parking area as well as a trail spur that will lead to a rock, known as Hanging Rock, that reportedly served as a 19th Century setting for a hanging.

Plazas will be installed at every road crossing to alert drivers to possible pedestrians and cyclists. The crossings will be on Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, Center Street (Route 44), Water Street and South Street.

In addition, a trailhead at the Park Avenue location will include restrooms and a parking area. The location is the former site of the city’s service garage which burned down in 2008.

Once completed, the trail will connect two ends of Geauga Park District’s Maple Highlands Trail, giving hikers and cyclists a 21-mile trail from the Lake County line to Middlefield Village.

Joseph Koziol Jr. started his career in journalism in 1981. He joined the Solon Times in 1992 and covered the city of Solon for 10 years. An award winning reporter, Mr. Koziol has been covering Geauga County since 2012.

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