There was no action, but much discussion, on an update to the city’s 2010 bike plan at Delaware City Council’s meeting Monday.
Council will have another reading of the resolution after more than 30 people voiced their opinions about the plan. Most gave their thoughts about the $1.67-million multi-use trail along the Delaware Run creek.
If grant funding was secured, the city would have further meetings about the project before it extends Willow Brook Christian Community’s existing 1,800-foot trail to connect Houk Road with downtown.
The trail was a point of contention between affected property owners who opposed the trail and those residents who believe the trail would benefit the general public.
“Sometimes when you’re thinking of the good of all you have to think of everything that’s on this planet and not just people,” said resident Donna Taylor. She opposes the trail because it would harm the natural area.
Marian Jacques, a Birch Row Drive resident, opposes the trail because of its “expensive” price tag to build and maintain. She said placing an asphalt trail is not viable because it wears down because of periodic flooding in that area. She proposed an alternative route using William and Curtis streets.
Privacy is another issue because the trail would be located behind residents’ backyards, said Patricia Belch. She said the “peace and quiet” was a reason she and other creek-area residents’ bought the properties.
Security was another concern especially for elderly residents at Willow Brook. Its community’s chief executive officer, Larry Harris, said some of his residents are on edge from theft-related crimes in recent years.
Extending the trail, he said, would make it easier for criminals to take advantage of 14 homes at the community. Cameras, lighting and fences are not fail-safe, Harris added.
On the other hand, residents in favor of the path said concerns about the trail were exaggerated, while the benefits are ignored.
“You got to look at the public at large and not the people [with the trail] in their backyard on this one,” said Frank Seebode, a Lake Street resident.
His father, he said, is a Willow Brook resident who would support the Delaware Run trail. Seebode’s father couldn’t attend the meeting because he was probably riding his bike in Florida, he said.
Additionally, there are trails installed in similar environments throughout central Ohio, said Joe Coleman. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission member said he trusted the city to mitigate any concerns if the trail were installed.
“This would make Delaware a much better place to live,” Coleman said.
Kate Tingley agreed. Her family will relocate to another state in 2020 because she wants to use her bike to commute.
Tingley was among the residents who talked about cars speeding on William Street, a reason she would never take her 9-year-old niece to ride on that road.
Dan Negley, a downtown bike shop owner, said attempts to reduce speeds on William and Central Avenue would be a challenge. But he proposed Council should take the trail off the table until a good solution presents itself.
On the other hand, resident Adam Stiffler said crime-related concerns about multi-use trails were not supported by previously completed studies.
“It’s an emotional topic and I’m a data-driven person,” he said.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.