Commissioners to give one-time funding to ORCA

February 26, 2020

By Heather Willard

The Athens County Commissioners have once again discussed funding for the Baileys Trail Project.

Commissioners Charlie Adkins and Chris Chmiel voted approval of earmarking $90,000 to go to the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia, of which Commissioner Lenny Eliason is a member. Because of this position, Eliason has removed himself from all commissioner discussions about the Baileys.

The $90,000 would only go to ORCA once an agreement with the Wayne National Forest is reached on management of funding, trail construction and planning. The city of Athens has already promised $90,000 annually for the next 20 years to fund the Baileys Trail Project’s construction.

Chmiel said Dawn McCarthy, spokesperson for the Wayne National Forest, had told him a recent grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for $150,000 will fund the construction of six more trail miles. The combined $180,000 from the county and city would only build four more miles of trail, as there will be two bridges in those areas.

“I’m trying to figure out how we, as commissioners, communicate with ORCA,” Adkins noted.

Chmiel said he had started attending the monthly ORCA meetings, and recommended Adkins do the same. Eliason sits on the ORCA board, and so already attends the meetings. Chmiel also recommended the commissioners visit other trail systems, such as one in Brown County, Indiana.

Adkins agreed that this would be a good idea, and said he would like to see real trails.

“What I toured last week was a gravel road, that wasn’t really part of the trail,” he noted, referencing a tour of the trail system the commissioners took part in on Feb. 18.

County Planner Jesse Powers was present for the conversation, and discussed a few projects connected to or supporting the Baileys Trail Project. She noted a FEMA grant has been received to help build trailhead necessities for the Doanville trailhead. A discussion on fees ensued from there.

Commissioner Adkins said he was uncomfortable putting a statement out that says the trail and trailhead infrastructure would be free, noting previous conversations about possibly charging for parking.

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