Sandusky awarded almost $500K for new pathway

SANDUSKY — State officials are helping clear a path for an ambitious new recreational trail in Sandusky.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced Friday it awarded about $493,500 to Sandusky for the first phase of the Sandusky Bay Pathway. It also awarded about $217,000 to Ottawa County to extend the North Coast Inland Trail.

In all, 19 grants divided up $7 million from the state’s Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant program.

“Clean Ohio Trail Fund grants are crucial to providing trail and infrastructure improvements to Ohio communities,” department director Jim Zehringer said. “Having hiking, biking and walking opportunities in our neighborhoods allows families easier access to the outdoors and helps to promote the benefits these trails and exercise provide.”

Planners envision an enlarged Sandusky Bay Pathway spanning throughout the city’s northern edge, connecting bikers and hikers to the planned Landing Park in east Sandusky, next to Sports Force Parks. It’s possible the pathway could, one day, stretch from Port Clinton to Vermilion. Today, the incomplete 2-mile-long waterfront network primarily stretches along Sandusky Bay.

A state document describing the grants states the money awarded to Sandusky will help cover the cost for Phase 1, a 2,100-foot-long, shared-used trail, which will span 10 feet wide, that will run through Landing Park. The total project cost for Phase I is listed as a bit more than $1 million.

The ODNR says Ottawa County’s grant will help pay for extending the existing North Coast Inland Trail in Elmore. The new section will start at the bridge over the Portage River and continue almost 4 miles northwest on an abandoned railroad line to Veteran’s Memorial Park in Genoa. The total project cost is listed as $2.4 million. The grant announced Friday is contributing about $217,000.

The North Coast Inland Trail spans 103 miles, connecting Indiana’s eastern border to Elyria. Today it’s about 85 percent complete. The trail runs through Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties, among others.