Neighbors Sunbury and Galena have a new connection — a multi-use trail that links up the two villages.
Fifty people gathered on the morning of Nov. 9 for a long-awaited ribbon-cutting of the Galena Brick Trail, near Big Walnut Elementary in Sunbury. Some had to park along Arrowhead Drive or Fescue Street and walk a bit on the trail or a neighborhood connector to get there. Others took the Preservation Parks of Delaware County Sandel Legacy Trail in Sunbury to the event site.
Attendees included Delaware County Commissioner Jeff Benton, and Galena Mayor Tom Hopper and past administrator Jeanna Burrell, and members of the Delaware County Friends of the Trail (DCFT), the Ohio-To-Erie Trail (OTET), and the Westerville Bicycle Club.
“We are holding today’s event at this particular location because it is symbolic of this trail’s connection to Sunbury,” Galena Administrator Jeffrey White said at the ribbon-cutting. “We are standing at the boundary between the two municipalities.”
“Today, we connecting more than just Sunbury and Galena,” said Sunbury Council President Joe St. John. “We are connecting more than the north to the south. We are even connecting more than the Ohio River to Lake Erie. This symbolizes the affinity of fitness in nature. This connection represents the fusion of recreation and leisure, family and friends, and health and wellness. I’m most thankful that this path literally connects our communities and our neighborhoods, something we need now more than ever. A journey like this takes diligence, fortitude, and long-term commitment — all of which are the core values of Ohioans.”
“After years of planning, involvement by many individuals and organizations, generous donors, and a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the final section of the Ohio-To-Erie Trail through Galena is now completed,” reads the event invitation.
The Galena Brick Trail is so named because it passes by what was once the Galena Shale Tile and Brick Company factory. The trail is considered part of a couple of bicycle routes. The trail is also part of OTET, which uses portions of existing trails statewide to run from the Ohio River in Cincinnati to Columbus to Lake Erie in Cleveland. Locally, they include: the Alum Creek Trail, Westerville Bike & Walk Route, Genoa Trail, Hoover Scenic Trail, the Brick Trail, and the Heart of Ohio Trail.
All told, the Galena Brick Trail is about 1.5 miles long.
Phase one of the trail, which runs from Dustin Road to Holmes Street in Galena, was completed in 2016. Phase two, which continues north, was completed in 2018. Phase three, two-thirds of a mile long, involved Harmony Development Group deeding right-of-way of 5.33 acres appraised at $165,000. Recycled synthetic wood was used for two benches, with a third one to come.
There was just one problem, however: An impassable tangle of honeysuckle overgrowth so thick a surveyor couldn’t see the one end from the other, even though the trail portion would be in a straight line. In mid-March, volunteers from DCFT cleared the way, the pathway was scraped in September, and paved in October.
Interestingly, though, people were using the trail as soon as the honeysuckle was cut down. Now that it is completed, runners, dog walkers and bicyclists from both communities are going from one village to the other to dine or have some hot cocoa or coffee, officials said. Galena also attracts bird watchers, boaters, and anglers to the boardwalk and shallower end of Hoover Reservoir.
“Galena is uniquely positioned to have these recreational pursuits,” White said. “We’re going to have our own special place. It’s a wonderful connection.”
Tommy Hatfield, the mayor of Sunbury, is an avid runner.
“I am very excited with the new trail connection between Sunbury and Galena,” he said. “I have always appreciated Galena’s approach and enthusiasm for the trail. I believe this trail connection and network is a real benefit for our community.”
Hatfield said the new trail segment will be incorporated as part of the fifth annual Sausage Gravy and Biscuits 5K run at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning in Sunbury. The SG&B 5K’s Facebook page states, “While there is no entry fee, we are encouraging every participant to bring a gift card. Any type or size of a gift card. We will be giving all of the gift cards to the Big Walnut Friends Who Share, of Sunbury. We hope to help others have a great Christmas!”
The nonprofit organization’s website states, “The Mission of the Big Walnut Friends Who Share is to work to improve the living conditions of families and individuals in need/crisis who reside in the Big Walnut School District by securing donated items (including clothing, food, household furnishings cash contributions, etc) and then distributing them free of charge to these persons.”
“I think this event is an example of what the Galena Brick Trail means to our communities — enjoying exercise and friendship in a natural setting on a beautiful trail,” Hatfield said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.