West Chester will seek federal funds for bike trail. Here’s where trustees stand if that request is denied.

West Chester Twp. may get a Smith Road bike path connector in the future. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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West Chester Twp. may get a Smith Road bike path connector in the future. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Whether or not West Chester Twp. residents see a Smith Road bike path connector in the future will depend on whether the township is successful in its pursuit of federal grant money.

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Township trustees have voted 2 to 1 to send in a grant application to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. Trustee Ann Becker, who has opposed applying for the funds because "the federal government is broke," was the dissenting vote.

After Tuesday’s vote, Becker told the Journal-News the township should not be spending money on anything but core services.

“I feel the township has to maintain the assets that we already have,” she said. “We have roads, we have culverts, we have a police department, a fire department. We need to focus on those essential services in our township before we start working on recreational activities.”

There is a maximum $750,000 in grant money — the township’s match would be about $150,000 — available through OKI. The Smith Road connector is estimated by the county engineer to cost about $400,000 to $500,000, according to Trustee Mark Welch.

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While Welch said the township can afford the local match, he has started lobbying local businesses to see if they can help mitigate that cost.

And if the township is denied the grant?

“Would I be willing to do the connector if it was five times more expensive? It would take thoughtful consideration,” Welch said.

Trustee Lee Wong, a longtime advocate of making the township more walkable, said he would spend the money regardless.

“Absolutely, absolutely, that’s what people want,” he said. “We want that little connector. It is such an important link to the other side of (Ohio) 747. It’s been sitting there for over four years.”

The Journal-News will continue to report new information in this story as it develops.