Trails open house set for Monday

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County Trails and Greenways Task Force will host an open house Monday at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center to show the public proposed plans for a new national bike route and to encourage ideas and suggestions on local walking and bike trails.

Task force Chairman Mike Paprocki said the open house is set from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“We will have maps of the new U.S. Bike Route 50 that will eventually run from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. It will run through Weirton to West Virginia state Route 2 and over the Market Street Bridge. From Steubenville it will head west to Bloomingdale, then Hopedale, Cadiz and then to Cambridge. It will be completed soon all the way to Illinois,” explained Paprocki.

“We will also have our executive summary available during the open house that details the local bike and walking routes in Jefferson County. And we will have information about a regional bike trail that will run from Cleveland into our area and then to Pittsburgh before turning north to Erie, Pa.,” said Paprocki.

The task force spent 2010 seeking input from county residents and working to take that input and create a vision outlined in a plan, offering a road map of what it can be to like for communities with recreational trails, officials said.

According to Ken Perkins, one the of the leading advocates for the development of trails throughout Jefferson County, “There are trails in Harrison County to our west and to our east there are trails in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Columbiana County has trails to our north, and to our south, Belmont County has trails. And in April 2012 the first official walking and biking trail in Jefferson County was opened at the fairgrounds. It is a multi-use trail at the Jefferson County fairgrounds that can also be used for rehabilitation. The project was two years in the making and I am really excited by this. I was very pleased when we met with the fair board to ask for their cooperation and the vote was unanimous in favor of adding the trail to the fairgrounds,” said Perkins.

Paprocki admitted he wasn’t sure the trails idea would really happen when discussions started more than three ago.

“Of my 20 years at the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission I have probably spent 15 years working on different ideas for trails. But this plan has gone so smooth. This trail system will bring a new quality of life to Jefferson County. It will bring conservation, education and economic development to our county,” stated Paprocki.

“This is important because we want to tie different trails in Steubenville together and draw attention to the points of interest and points of pride in the city,” Paprocki said.