Vision of new Hamilton bike path becoming clearer

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Vision of new Hamilton bike path becoming clearer

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The dark lines indicate the portion of a rail line that once serviced the old Champion Paper plant on the west side of the Great Miami River. The city of Hamilton wants to acquire the former rail line from CSX to develop the Hamilton Beltline bike path. CONTRIBUTED

The first phase of a nearly 3-mile bike path that would connect a large part of the city’s West Side could be finished by 2018 as officials seek private foundation grants in addition to state and federal money.

Hamilton City Council recently received an update on progress of the Hamilton Beltline bike path, which is part of the city’s strategic goals to generate $40 million in investment for recreational activities.

“The trail would lead to the western edge of the Great Miami River making it not only fitting into the recreational amenities category, but also the Great Miami River amenities,” said City Clerk Nicholas Garuckas, who has been spearheading the project.

The proposed 2.96-mile Hamilton Beltway would also be in close proximity to Row America, Paddlers, Marcum Park, and the ramp from RiverEdge.

In addition, the city is reviewing the idea of designing a complete master plan for future bike paths and recreation trails. Garuckas said the Beltway is the pivotal piece that would connect most of the city’s West Side.

The trail would provide about 19,000 residents access to 36 acres of greenspace across four neighborhoods for recreational activities. Nearly 11,000 residents live within a one-mile radius of the proposed bike trail, which will be created by re-purposing the former CSX rail corridor and 16.5-acre rail yard.

The former 100-year-old rail line loops through a portion of Hamilton’s West Side and was used to ship paper from the former Champion Paper Mill.

The city’s goal is to have the acquisition and project funded by grants as much as possible, according to Garuckas.

While the city is “grant dependent,” Hamilton officials are looking for other resources such as private foundations. He said state and federal grants have long application time-lines but that city has been recommended for some state grants.

“We’re exploring a lot of different grants,” Garuckas said.

The city is in the process of acquiring the land as CSX wants to abandon the rail line. Garuckas said the environmental impact study is scheduled this spring and completed in early summer.

“After the environmental impact study is completed, the city and CSX will begin negotiations to purchase the property in late summer,” Garuckas said.

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