A crowd of explorers, hikers, bikers and planners met at the entrance to the Williamsburg to Batavia hike-bike trail for a ribbon cutting Friday, June 19. The ceremony marked the end of Phase I of the project which began more than eight years ago.
The trail begins at the end of Broadway Street, in Williamsburg and connects to Williamsburg-Bantam Road. It follows Williamsburg-Bantam Road then crosses over Cain Run Creek and ends at an overlook area along Harsha Lake. It is about 2.5 miles long and is intended for hikers, joggers, walkers and bicyclists.
“This project started in the planning process eight or nine years ago,” said Williamsburg Mayor Mary Ann Lefker. “This could not have been accomplished without the collaboration of so many people. It involved a committee made up of people from the Village of Williamsburg, Batavia Township, Williamsburg Township, the Village of Batavia, the Clermont County Engineer’s Office and the park district, the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and OKI. Chris Clingman with the Clermont County Park District has been willing to take a lead role in the development of this trail. Phase II of the trail is scheduled to begin construction in 2010 and we hope to be open in 2011. That will literally get this trail from the Village of Williamsburg into the East Fork State Park.”
"The commissioners were willing to sign-off on our project and they saw value in it for Clermont County," said Lefker. "We have partnered with the health district and their initiative Clermont CAN. This is also a piece of their pie."
The Clermont County General Health District is promoting nature trails, frisbee golf and fishing through their Coalition for Activity and Nutrition. Clermont CAN has published a guide to places and spaces in Clermont County for activity and nutrition entitled "Be Active, Eat Smart." The publication is available through the health district. Call (513) 732-7499 for a copy.
There is no parking available at the Broadway Street entrance to the trail, but Lefker pointed out that three parking terminus' are available in the village.
"This is a residential area and we don't have parking available here, but we have three areas which have agreed to offer free parking," said Lefker. "People can park at the Harmony Hill Museum which is on Third Street, they can park at the community park at the end of Main Street or the parking lot at the old high school on the corner of Broadway and Main streets."
Lefker invited everyone to take a short walk to view the completed overlook area.
"Everybody can enjoy the view from the overlook area. We have benches there for people to sit and enjoy the view," said Lefker. "I'm looking forward to moving on to Batavia. We have some new energy coming out of the Village of Batavia and we're going to be connected in just a few years."
A number of state legislators were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
"This truly is an example of a local, state and federal partnership," said State Senator Tom Niehaus. "Grant money from the state totaled just over $415,000 from two different grants from the Community Project Fund. These are dollars that the state sets aside for capital projects to build infrastructure and help improve the community. Federal highway funds contributed $218,000 to the project. This is both a recreational project and an economic development project. If we look at the success they have had on the other side of the county with the Loveland Bike Trail, we envision the same opportunities for Batavia and Williamsburg. But it takes the vision of people like Mary Ann Lefker and Debbie Clepper and all the other members of the community who have been involved, to take that vision and turn it into reality and that's what we have here today. It is nice to be able to return some of your tax dollars and help you be able to complete a project that you can enjoy."
Clermont County Commissioner Ed Humphrey noted that he lives next to the Miami Scenic River Bike Trail and that he realizes how much his neighborhood uses the trail for exercise, biking and walking.
"I know how much this trail will be used," said Humphrey. "For those who live here in Williamsburg and for those who will visit here, this will be a wonderful addition. It took a lot of cooperation to do this and we have a list of people who have contributed to make this happen. It took a lot of cooperation from a lot of agencies to be able to move this forward including the legislature and we thank them all for their contributions, effort and the support that they have provided."
It also took many hours of volunteer manpower to complete the trail.
"What strikes me is the work of the local people," said State Representative Danny Bubp. "Without volunteers working hard and making something like this happen, it doesn't get done. I encourage all the communities to get involved and make a difference."
For more information on the trail and other parks in Clermont County, visit parks.clermontcountyohio.gov/ or call (513) 732-2977.