Barnesville Gets $2M for Walking, Biking Trail

Photo by Lenny Wittenbrook The railroad bed near the old B&O Depot in Barnesville will be turned into a walking and biking trail with more than $2 million from Belomar Regional Council and an Ohio Department of Transportation grant.

BARNESVILLE — The long-desired Barnesville Trail and Tunnel project, often championed as “Rails to Trails,” will finally become a reality.

Village officials learned last week they have secured more than $2 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Belomar Regional Council.

Village Administrator Roger Deal made the announcement during a recent council meeting. He said the project had been selected for funding in the Transportation Alternative Program — or TAP — up to a maximum of $950,000.

Deal also said Belomar Regional Council, which had been working with the village on the project for some time, had federal funds within their control and agreed to put $1.1 million toward the project.

He said the cost to the village would be $95,000 for the $2,145,000 project, which will convert the old B&O Railroad bed through the village into a walking and bike trail and pay for major repairs to the railroad tunnel so it can safely accommodate the trail. It will also pay for infrastructure improvements relevant to the trail.

Deal expressed his appreciation to all involved for getting the funds for the project.

“We certainly thank Belomar for what they’ve done and the push they gave to get us through this time,” he said. “The very first application for this, Mr. Rich Sidwell and I put together in 2005. It’s going to be a good project and I have to admit that if Rich hadn’t stuck with it, I would have given up on it during the 13 years since then.”

He went on to say that an engineering firm would have to be chosen to design the project and there were months of planning ahead.

But, he said, “We can make it really nice.”

Deal also requested approval to have Angelina Stone and Marble fix a wall on the water department building that is in danger of falling in.

Council approved the work for $23,000, but Councilman Scott Gallagher asked to have the front of the Municipal Building looked at as well. He said there is an area of that building that was continuing to deteriorate.

Deal also updated council concerning the ongoing Ohio Public Works paving project. He said Ohio Street and Warren Avenue were finished and that he had spoken to the Pumpkin Festival Committee to make sure vendors use plywood under their trailer jacks so as to not damage the fresh pavement on West Main. The street is the hub of Pumpkin Festival activities taking place Sept. 27-30.

Community Development Coordinator Bill Knox also asked council to approve a proposal to begin the design process for the wall and steps adjacent to what will be a new parking lot on West Main Street in the amount of $11,500.

Knox said two different designs — pre-cast and poured concrete — would be included so the village could weigh the cost difference and decide between them before council voted to move forward.

Meanwhile, council discussed approving a revision of the village’s income tax ordinance to comply with a request from the Regional Income Tax Agency, with which the village has a contract. Councilman Terry McCort said he has fielded complaints from residents who are either annoyed or confused by the quarterly notifications they receive from RITA.

McCort also said residents had been receiving notices concerning taxes from 2014. He said he thought it had been clear that the agreement with RITA was to go from 2017 forward, with the village not seeking any taxes in arrears.

Council President Brad Hudson agreed with McCort. But Assistant Fiscal Officer Jeannie Hannahs said the agreement that was signed allowed RITA to go back to 2014.

“Me personally, I’d say cut that out,” McCort said. “Whatever we have to do or re-sign because it was discussed in an open format that we wouldn’t go backward.”

Hudson requested that Hannahs get records of the collections made by RITA so council members could review what taxes were being collected by year before the matter was tabled.

Knox spoke in favor of RITA, saying with the agency total collections are up 25% “year over year.”

Police Chief Rocky Sirianni also asked for council’s approval to complete the purchase of a new K-9 cruiser through a United States Department of Agriculture grant that had been approved previously. He said the total for the vehicle and equipment was $50,000, with $27,000 being grant money and $23,000 being a loan associated with the grant program.

Council voted to approve the purchase.

In other business:

∫ Councilman Tony Johnson said a resident had requested that the village look into putting additional stop signs at the intersection of Franklin and Vine, making it a 4-way stop, because speeding vehicles have become airborne there. Sirianni and Village Solicitor Marlin Harper agreed to look into the matter and write the required ordinance for approval at a future meeting.

∫ Mayor Dale Bunting announced Mayor’s Court figures for the month of August, saying that the state received $770.50, the county $28.50 and the village $1,373 for a total of $2,172.

∫ Bunting also thanked St. Clairsville for the use of its facilities while the Barnesville pool was being refurbished. He thanked Bobbi Jo Johnson, Melissa Dodd and the Barnesville’s lifeguard staff for enduring the hectic schedule over the summer.

∫ Council also approved paying bills in the amount of $277,729.41; agreed to advertise for sale the village’s 2007 Chevy Trailblazer; passed an ordinance amending the annual appropriations to fund the sidewalk loan program; passed an ordinance authorizing the recodification, editing and inclusion of village ordinances; and approved a building permit for Denny Thompson to change from a shingle to a metal roof at 331 South Chestnut Street. Harper also introduced candidate for Eastern Division County Court Judge Dan Balgo to village officials before Balgo briefly discussed his qualifications and experience.

Barnesville Village Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at the Municipal Building.

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