The final leg of the Maple Highlands Trail in the city of Chardon is on track.
The Chardon Planning Commission reviewed a concept plan Monday for the bike and hike trail that will complete a citywide trail of 8.6 miles. The project includes three trail heads, a restroom and parking and a spur leading to a rock, known as Hanging Rock, that reportedly served as a 19th Century place for a hanging. It will extend from Water Street (Route 6) to South Street (Route 44).
Michelle Johnson, director of community planning and design for the Environmental Design Group, told the commission that the trail will follow a “backward J” alignment as it proceeds south. Ms. Johnson also was involved in the first leg of the trail which runs from Fifth Avenue to Water Street.
She said the trail will look exactly like the existing trail with a spur leading to the Hanging Rock.
She said plazas will be installed at each road crossing that will alert drivers to possible pedestrians or cyclists crossing the roads. The crossings will be on Water Street, Park Avenue and South Street.
In addition, a trailhead at the Park Avenue location will include restrooms that are tied into the city’s sewer system. Parking will also be available there at the site of the city’s former service garage which burned down in 2008.
Ms. Johnson said she anticipates that the project will be bid this fall or next spring.
She said all property owners were cooperative in working to provide the land needed to make the final leg of the trial possible.
Councilman Christopher Grau asked if added warnings could be put in place to alert drivers to possible crossings. He said the Water Street crossing, with three lanes of traffic, is different that the two-lane crossings at South Street, Park Avenue and Center Street (Route 44).
Ms. Johnson said the city could consider such warnings, but would likely see “push back” from the Ohio Department of Transportation that regulates street crossings on state routes.
Councilman Andrew Blackley said if the city deems those warnings necessary, they may be able to add them later.
City Manager Randal Sharpe said funds have been set aside to provide landscape buffering for the Burlington Green neighborhood, which has the path pass close by.
Once completed, the trail will connect two ends of the Geauga Park District’s Maple Highlands Trail, giving hikers and cyclists 21 miles of trails to use, Ms. Johnson said.
Steve Yaney, city community development administrator, said because city parks are exempted from zoning, the commission did not have to give formal approval of the plans.