A ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the new Oregon Parks Bike Trail on Wednesday.
The paved connector will complete one of the area’s longest cycling and leisure trails and connect 4.9 miles of trails at Maumee Bay State Park with 3.3 miles of trails at Pearson.
The eight mile trail will connect Fassett Junior High, Starr Elementary and Clay High schools with Pearson Metropark and Maumee Bay State Park.
“I’m excited about this next step in enhancing the quality of life in Oregon,” Mayor Mike Seferian said Wednesday. “Even though the trail is just being completed, hundreds of our residents have already been out using it.”
The trail is one of a few in the area that will provide a connection between two major parks.
The trail will also provide users the opportunity to stop at local restaurants or businesses for an ice cream cone or a snack along the way. Eagles Nest Sweet Retreat ice cream shop at the corner of Seaman and South Stadium roads, and the Oregon Inn, a restaurant on Bay Shore Road, are among businesses along the trail, said Seferian.
The city plans to install signage along the trail with mile markers and information about distances and connection to area parks, restaurants, and businesses. The city expects the use of the trail to continue to grow as Oregon residents and people from outside the area become more aware of it. Those who wish to drive to the trail can park at either Maumee Bay State Park or Pearson Park to access the path.
A portion of the trail that runs through the administrative and athletic complex has been dedicated to former Mayor Leonard Wasserman, an active cyclist who participates in the city’s annual Bike to Work Day.
The trail has been completed in phases over a 15 year period at a cost of $1.8 million. Approximately 80 percent of the funding came from state and federal sources with a local match.
Seferian said there have been discussions over the years to extend the trail further and connecting to nearby communities, such as Toledo.
“There was early talk when Toledo was thinking about a bike route along Front Street, to the Craig Memorial Bridge. But it would have to go through a real rural area in Oregon to get to that point, which would end up going over the Millard Avenue overpass and down Front Street. Depending on how grant funding goes, Toledo would have to extend so far to come towards Oregon, and Oregon would have to extend so far to go towards Toledo. But it has been mentioned. We will be looking at other possibilities. And we’ll be looking at other places in our city to expand what we have now,” said Seferian.
Joining forces with other entities when applying for grants gives communities a better chance at scoring a grant, he added.
“When you go for that 80-20 grant from the state, it’s better to link up with another municipality,” he said.
Also, as a part of the city’s current Bikeway Master Plan, the Public Service Department is planning to apply for future grant funding to purchase easements and install a bike path along Toledo Edison's Transmission Towers, which are located half way between Coy and Lallendorf roads with a north-south alignment through the city, according to Public Service Director Paul Roman.
Seferian said the city may be able to make a deal with Edison.
“We might be able to work a deal with Edison because a path could provide them with easier access to those towers. It would be a plus for Edison. Right now, there is just a dirt path. Lighter duty vehicles could drive onto the bike path to service those towers. It would certainly be a lot more affordable than if we were just crossing some farmer’s field because it might disrupt his operation and impede his ability to use the farmland. But I can’t see Toledo Edison thinking a bike trail would do anything to disrupt their towers,” said Seferian.
He credited Roman, the Toledo Metropolitan Council of Governments, Rodney Shultz, deputy city engineer, and the late Robert Breese, an engineer for the state of Ohio, for their efforts to make the trail a reality.