Fairfield eyes property purchase to extend bike trail

One solution to extend the Great Miami River bike trail from Waterworks Park to Marsh Lake would involved Fairfield purchasing a 1-acre parcel at River Road and Groh Lane.

Fairfield City Council is considering the property purchase with the help of a Clean Ohio Grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission. Council did not give its approval Monday, holding the legislation to a first reading, as it may not be a certainty, said Public Works Director Ben Mann.

The board is expected to allow the city’s Public Works Department to apply for the grant Monday at a special meeting designed to discuss the city manager hiring process. The deadline to apply for the grant is Feb. 4.

The grant would provide 75 percent of the funding to acquire and improve the property, with the city committing the remaining 25 percent matching funds. The total Clean Ohio project cost is about $292,000, which includes a $190,000 purchase price.

The legislation was not approved on Monday because the property owner may consider selling on the open market, Mann said.

“It would be nice to have it. It would fit several different components, but it wasn’t something we were actively trying to get,” he said.

The property would benefit in multiple ways, according to city officials.

Owning the property would allow Fairfield to more easily address a public safety concern at the River Road and Groh Lane intersection, which can be difficult to navigate from Groh. Also, the road is also heavily used by the Public Works Department, which sits north of Waterworks Park.

The property would ultimately be maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department as it could be a pocket park on the southside of Waterworks Park. It would also provide one way to connect the Great Miami River bike trail from Waterworks Park to Marsh Lake Park, but Mann said it isn’t the only way.

The corner lot nearly faces a 5-acre lot the city purchased a couple of years ago to serve as a pedestrian access to Marsh Lake, and connect the bike path through the park. The path would then connect Marsh Lake to the trailhead at FurField Dog Park.

“It would make life easier,” said Mann of purchasing the corner lot. “It would fit into Waterworks Park, it would be a solution for how to take the bike trail from Waterworks down to Marsh Lake.”

City officials have said they looked at various ways to connect the two parks with the trail.

If the property is sold through the open market, the city could still purchase it but it’s not likely to be eligible for Clean Ohio Grant funds.

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