By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
ANDERSON TWP. - Trustees gave the final green light late Thursday to a long-anticipated walking and biking trail that will connect neighborhoods with schools, the library and, eventually, the Anderson Towne Center.
Construction should begin in spring 2005 for the township's Five Mile Bike Trail, a 2-mile project costing $1.9 million. It should be complete by the end of the year, connecting State Road with Turpin High School and Newtown Road.
"It will be a defining feature in the community, especially with the redevelopment of the mall," Anderson Administrator Henry Dolive said. "There are not many communities with a cross-country trail."
The trail is part of the popular four-mile Anderson Trails network of bike and hike trails.
The pathway will be built on the site of a proposed four-lane highway that never emerged along Five Mile Road. It will cross Clough Pike; there also will be a bike bridge across Hunley Road.
A $310,000 grant awarded last year to the township from the Clean Ohio Trails fund will help Anderson Township return to a simpler time when communities were dotted with sidewalks, not limited-access subdivisions and traffic-jammed Beechmont Avenue.
In 2000, the township also received a $480,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the project. The township would pay the balance of the cost, estimated at about $1.1 million.
Volunteers who worked on the trail project say Anderson was designed, like a lot of suburbs, without pedestrians in mind.
"We are looking forward to riding on it," resident Nancy Mason said Thursday during an open house for the public to view the trail's layout before trustees approved it at their monthly meeting.
"We go out now to the bike trail in Milford, so it's nice to have one of our own so close to home," she said. "We can ride our bikes over to it. Before we had to get in the car and put our bike racks on."
But some residents said they fear the trail will attract crime and chase away wildlife such as deer.
"We bought there because we thought it was a haven and a quiet place to relax," resident Jean Conver said. The trail will snake behind her back yard off Deaconsbench Court. "Anderson prides itself on greenery and animals."
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office plans to patrol the trail on bike during peak hours. No-trespassing signs also will be posted to remind trail users to stay off private property, township officials say.
"We are going to be very actively patrolling that area when it's opened to provide a safe and secure environment for the trail and the residents who live around it," said Sgt. Mike Hartzler, who heads the Anderson sheriff's substation.
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