WILMINGTON — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has awarded the city a $500,000 grant to help finance construction of a 3.5-mile extension of the Luther Warren Peace Path, Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth confirmed Friday.
“Our trails are some of our most utilized recreational assets in Wilmington and Clinton County. Expanding these trails to an eventual regional connection is an incredible opportunity for us,” Stanforth said. “Trails improve health and wellness opportunities and address important quality of life issues in our community.”
Stanforth said the Peace Path extension will begin at Nelson Road in the city of Wilmington and extend west along a former rail corridor to Beechgrove Road/Ogden Road in Adams Township. Designed to provide access along Lytle Creek, the trail will cross the stream at four locations along the corridor and provide scenic views.
“We are immensely grateful for the cooperation that we’ve received at every step from landowners, Wilmington City Council, Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, and the Clinton County Rails-to-Trails Coalition,” Stanforth said.
He explained that expanding these trails to an eventual regional connection has many advantages.
“Our trails maintain high usage year-round by our residents,” Stanforth said.
“In addition to improving recreation and wellness opportunities, an eventual link to other regions will draw visitors to our community and create economic benefits.”
The plan is to eventually connect to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the third-longest paved trail in the United States, which boasts over 700,000 users annually.
“To capture a small portion of those recreation users would have a measurable economic impact,” Stanforth said.
Dan Evers, Executive Director of the Clinton County Port Authority, said “Exceptional communities are comprehensive communities. Diverse quality of life, recreation, and healthy living options are essential components of a comprehensive community – which is a community that adds value to existing and prospective businesses.
“This grant award, and the trail development project, is one more example of how our community leadership is building a comprehensive community. I applaud this initiative, and the hard work of the City of Wilmington’s leadership team to advance it.”
The ODNR grant comes with a required $150,000 grant match obligation, which the city is planning to fulfill with previous grant awards.
“No local tax monies will be used to complete the project,” Stanforth said.
To date, the city has secured more than $2.5 million in grant funding for the project. In 2019, the city agreed to be the sponsor of the project, which secured the initial award of $950,000 from House Bill 529 in 2018.
The City of Wilmington applied and was later awarded $1,091,601 from the Clean Ohio Fund.
More on grants, projects
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced this week it is providing more than $6.6 million in grants for new and improved trails for hiking, biking and other outdoor activities — including the $500,000 for the Clinton County project.
The grants are being awarded through the Clean Ohio Trails Fund which works to improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Ohioans. The funding will also go toward 19 other trail projects in Ohio.
Projects approved for funding also include:
• $463,730 for the City of Columbus to construct the first phase of the Eastmoor Green Line which will extend 2.3 miles from the central near east neighborhoods to the western edge of the City of Whitehall.
• $500,000 for Greene County to develop an asphalt trail that links Yellow Springs High School, the Village of Yellow Springs, Antioch College, and Agraria (a regenerative agriculture center).
• $350,000 for the City of Cincinnati to construct a 1-mile paved section of the Ohio River Trail West.
The $6.64 million in grants will be used to acquire land for new trails; build and improve trail infrastructure, including regional trail systems and bridges; create links to statewide trails; and develop trail connections from urban areas to recreational areas. The investments help facilitate travel and provide safe and scenic trails where Ohioans can hike, bike, and run.
To learn more about Ohio’s trails, visit trails.ohiodnr.gov.