By Brenna R. Kelly
Enquirer staff writer
BURLINGTON - When Camp Ernst Middle School opens next fall, children from nearby neighborhoods could walk to school, if only there were sidewalks.
Boone County hopes a state grant will change that. Boone County has asked for $45,000 from the Governor's Office of Local Development to build a path that would connect the middle school to Hanover Park subdivision and Gunpowder Creek Nature Park.
"This is an area where we already see a lot of people walking, along side the road or in the yards. When the school opens, it's going to be much greater," said Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore.
The grant would come from the Recreational Trails Program, designed to promote recreational activities. Linking the school to Hanover Park would create more than 17 continuous miles of trails and sidewalks for recreation, said Robin Curry, assistant county administrator.
The nature park, with 3 miles of trails, is tucked inside Hanover Park and the 740-home subdivision has 14 miles of sidewalks.
"This is very important area when it comes to safety," Moore said. Some middle school children could walk to school but need a safe route, he said.
There are several organizations, such as walktoschool.org, that promote walking and biking to school for fitness and to improve air quality.
If the grant is approved, a 5-foot-wide sidewalk, 1,800 feet long would connect Hanover Boulevard to the back of the middle school on Rogers Lane. The sidewalk would go through the 11 front yards along Rogers Lane before crossing Rogers at Todd Drive.
It's not unusual for districts to build new schools without sidewalks. Last month, an Enquirer survey of school districts in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky found that 35 of 42 public schools built in the past decade, or now under construction, have no sidewalks connecting the nearest neighborhood.
"We are trying to get the schools hooked up with the subdivisions," said Dave Geohegan, a Boone County planner.
"We are always asking developers to put in sidewalks, and one of their criticisms is that it doesn't connect to anything," he said. "This is going to show that connections are possible."
If the county gets the grant, it will have to spend at least $45,000 of its own money to match the funds.
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