SUNBURY — The city is getting serious about its trail system, asking for input on a new survey.
“Sunbury is working with a nationally renowned Trail Town expert to study and develop a framework for creating and improving Trail Towns in Central Ohio along the Ohio to Erie Trail,” the city posted last week on Facebook.
“One of the first steps in this process is to survey residents and stakeholders in the participating communities,” the post continued. “If you would please take 5-10 minutes of your time to provide your views on the trail and how we can improve user experiences, both local and visitors, your input will be used as the process develops. The more perspectives we get the better.”
The Trail Town Survey is at www.surveymonkey.com/r/COGtrailsurvey and will remain open until March 10.
The survey is being administered by Central Ohio Greenways “to gain a better understanding of the value residents and businesses place on the Ohio to Erie Trail and trails generally.”
As many readers know, the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) stretches 326 miles vertically from the Ohio River in Cincinnati to Lake Erie in Cleveland. “The route in Central Ohio includes locally named trails such as the Alum Creek, Heart of Ohio, Kokosing Gap, Roberts Pass, Prairie Grass, and Downtown Connector trails,” the survey said.
Along with demographic questions, the survey asks about trail use and benefits. It asks where respondents live and work, how often they use OTET, and doing what activity.
Also asked is what makes the trail enjoyable or what prevents it from being enjoyable, what’s the main reason for using the trail, how does the community benefit from the trail, and do respondents consider their community a “trail town.” The survey defines a trail town as “a community that supports trail users with services, promotes its trail to local residents, and values its trail enough to take care of it.”
The next section asks about trail tourism. It asks if people want trail visitors shopping in their community, attending events, etc. It asks if they feel their community is ready to have those visitors, and what are the barriers to attracting visitors.
“Other communities working with Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission on this foundation-funded grant include Centerburg, Mt. Vernon and London, Ohio,” said the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce on Facebook last week.
“There aren’t cash registers on the trail,” said the Trail Town Program website (trailtowns.org). “So, if you want cyclists to boost your local economy, you have to tap your town into that opportunity … by transforming into a bike-friendly destination where people want to stay, explore and spend.”
Trail Town said its outdoor tourism projects are across Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, “but we also help trails around the nation follow our lead.” Among its trails are from Erie to Pittsburgh, which its website said “will connect the Lake Erie bayfront to the Point in downtown Pittsburgh.” It goes along the Allegheny River and Titusville, “where the modern oil industry began.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.