West Chester Twp. trustees are still deciding whether or not to apply for a $750,000 grant — $150,000 would be the required local match — to help pay for a portion of the Miami 2 Miami trail connector project.
The estimated cost to connect the trail from the Great Miami River in Hamilton to Mason is $17.85 million. West Chester Twp.’s estimated portion of the project is $13.6 million from Ohio 747 at the Trinity Pub to Mason.
Aaron Wiegand, the township’s community development director, said he didn’t want anyone to get sticker shock from the estimated bottom line.
“These are preliminary estimates so I don’t want anyone to jump out at the main number here,” Wiegand said. “This is going to take a lot of trips to the buffet to fill our plate and multiple grant applications over a number of years. But if you don’t have a plan you won’t get anywhere in this world.”
The trustees delayed a vote last week after they were presented with some plans for the project — connecting trails along the Great Miami River in Butler County and Little Miami River in Warren County — that has been in the works for years.
The grant application is due to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments by June 1.
Lee Wong currently is the only trustee in favor of the township submitting a grant application.
Trustee Mark Welch said West Chester residents should have a say in the decision.
“That is such a large amount of money. It should be a referendum so that the people would vote on it. Let the people decide,” he said.
Trustee Ann Becker says she has a “fundamental problem with the federal government paying for our bike paths because the federal government is broke.”
“If West Chester wants to have bike paths, users should pay. West Chester should pay for it ourselves,” she said.
In 2002, the Miami 2 Miami trail connector project was proposed as an 84-mile network of interconnecting bike trails to connect the Great Miami River Recreation Bike Trail to the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The two trails already link into bike trail systems in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with the correct total estimated cost of the trail and the correct cost estimate of West Chester Twp.’s portion.