By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
ANDERSON TWP. - For years, township officials have talked about building a hike/bike trail to connect neighborhoods and township landmarks, making it easier to travel around the area.
That dream will soon become a reality.
Residents and leaders here say a $310,000 grant awarded earlier this month from the Clean Ohio Trails fund will help them return to a simpler time - when communities were dotted with sidewalks, not limited-access subdivisions.
Awarded through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the money is earmarked specifically for the improvement and expansion of recreational trails.
It will go toward construction of a $1.9 million, two-mile pathway connecting State Road with the Turpin High School area. Construction should begin in 2005.
"This was the final ingredient the Anderson Township board ... needed to complete the funding package for this exciting project," said board president Russ Jackson.
To Tom Caruso, the money means he'll have peace of mind while his children will have more independence.
This Anderson Township father of three shuttles his kids to friends' houses because he doesn't feel safe letting them ride their bikes there. There are no sidewalks or safe paths for them to ride on.
"People are realizing that is not healthy, and they are trying to get a more people-oriented community going. I think if you have people walking and riding their bikes ... it develops a sense of community," Caruso said.
The trail will use land along Five Mile Road that was once the site of a proposed four-lane road that was never built, officials said.
Some residents objected to the idea of a new road in the area, and the plan was scrapped. Now, however, most are amenable to the idea of a walking trail, believing it will improve quality of life in the township.
Caruso, who is a member of the township's transportation advisory committee, which worked on the proposal, said there are still some who believe the land should remain untouched.
"But this trail will become part of a much larger plan. ... We will eventually interconnect with (the Little Miami Scenic Trail), so that conceivably you could use our trails to access other Ohio trails," he said.
Steve Sievers, director of the township's development services department, said the township previously received a $480,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the project.
The township will pay the remaining $1.1 million, he said.
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