Westerville Welcomes the Ohio to Erie Trail
Cyclists can pull into 'station,' stretch legs, open wallets Westerville plans to put out the welcome mat for riders on the Ohio to Erie Trail with a rest stop near Uptown shops.
Funding is being finalized for a project that aims to make Westerville a destination for bicyclists.
Brick sales and sponsorships are being solicited for the remaining $25,000 needed to construct the Westerville Legacy Train Depot. It's a $150,000 project that will include a variety of amenities for those traveling by bicycle.
To be located in the city's Hanby Park at 115 E. Park St., the depot is part of a city trail loop. But it's also a section of the Ohio to Erie Trail that, when completed, will stretch from Cincinnati to Cleveland.
"If you look at the studies, what bike trails bring to a community is tremendous," said Westerville Parks Development Coordinator Mike Hooper.
From a financial standpoint, riders using the Little Miami Scenic Trail spent an average of $13.54 on food, beverages and transportation, Hopper said.
They also spend an average of $277 annually on accessories and could be a boom for the city's two bicycle shops. "It's an opportunity for people who wouldn't normally stop in town to see Uptown," said Mason Morgan, owner of The Westerville Bike Shop, 29 W. Main St. "Who knows, maybe they'll be impressed by Westerville and come back or recommend it to a friend." The "train" part of the project notes the history of the trail's path, formerly a rail line. The depot would serve as a resting spot for riders using the trail, whether on a cross-state or crosstown ride.
Central to the project is a 35-by-16 foot shelter that will house restrooms, a drinking fountain, eating area, fireplace, air compressor and bicycle lockers that will deter theft.
Theft is a primary concern of trail users who think of stopping for an off-trail excursion, Hooper said, because many of the bicycles they use are expensive.
"It will give them the chance to go Uptown and contribute to our local economy without worrying," Hooper said.
Additional amenities could include a kiosk letting bikers know the location of nearby businesses.
Funding committed to the project, which Hooper said he hopes to have completed this year, include $50,000 from the city, $25,000 from the Westerville Parks Foundation and $50,000 from the Westerville Fund.
The remaining $25,000 will be collected by the Westerville Sertoma Club in the form of brick sales, either $50 for a brick or $250 for an 8-by-8 stone, likely limestone and similar to those used at the First Responders Park.
Hooper said sales are at $3,400 and those interested can pick up a form at the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave., call Hooper at 614-901-6505 or by contacting the Sertoma Club.
Hooper said he expects construction to begin this year and be completed by early 2012.
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