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County backs out of trail project

A proposed walking and biking path that would connect Dickinson to two recreation areas immediately west of the city is now back to square one. The Stark County Park Board recently voted 4-3 to not fund the Crooked Crane Shared Use Path, even aft...

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A proposed walking and biking path that would connect Dickinson to two recreation areas immediately west of the city is now back to square one.

The Stark County Park Board recently voted 4-3 to not fund the Crooked Crane Shared Use Path, even after the city of Dickinson and the Dickinson Parks and Recreation District had given the green light to the project. The proposed 10-foot wide path was to be just over two miles long and initially have a gravel surface with a double seal coat.

The idea behind the path is to provide a safer way for youngsters and others to bike or hike to the Dickinson Dike and Patterson Lake recreation areas. People often walk west along the BNSF Railroad tracks or bike on Stark County Road 10 to get to Patterson Lake.

The initial cost of the path is estimated at $450,000, with $296,000 of that cost covered by a grant. The remaining $154,000 was to be equally split by the city, park district and county.

Stark County commissioners Russ Hoff and Ken Zander voted against the path funding, as did county park board members Arnie Binek and Frank Klein. Voting for the path funding were Stark County commissioners George Nodland, Chet Willer and Duane Wolf. The five county commissioners also are members of the county park board.

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Nodland took the lead in promoting the county's involvement in the path project.

"When I first went to the county they said, 'If the city would be part of it, they would consider it,'" Nodland said. "I went to the city and they approved it. Then I went to the county for the vote and it went down 4-3. I'm surprised."

Nodland believes there is a need for a longer trail in this part of the county as more and more people enjoy walking and biking. The proposed path starts at the intersection of State Avenue and Palm Beach Road and basically runs parallel to the railroad tracks on the south until reaching Patterson Lake.

Nodland said even though the project is killed for now, he isn't giving up on pursuing it.

"I've always felt it was a good idea to get our youngsters and walking off of that Highway 10," Willer said in explaining his support for the path. "I thought that was dangerous."

Wolf and Willer also referred to the project receiving a complaint from an individual who leases property from the railroad, which was a negative that popped up.

"I didn't like the fact there wasn't a lot more work done up front in regard to talking to people," Wolf said, while adding the project has yet to receive approval from the railroad.

Hoff said he voted against the path's funding because the information about it was all preliminary.

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"The costs could get higher. The split also applied to maintenance. I don't like putting bills on other county commissioners down the road," Hoff said.

Binek voted against the path because he doesn't think the proposed location is right.

"I think we're getting into another facility like the skateboard park. It's in a location that is not going to be patrolled very well," Binek said.

He too pointed to the railroad not yet signing off on the project, along with not knowing how the path would be maintained once it is developed and the costs associated with that maintenance.

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