Freedom Bike and Walking Trail Discussion: ‘We’re Starting From a Clean Slate’
Jeff Degitz of Carroll County Recreation and Parks talked about acquiring state funding and forming a work group to help pull the bike trail project together on Thursday evening.
The second meeting in Carroll County’s discussion of bike and walking trails in the Freedom Area was a little quieter than the first meeting in October, where a heated argument broke out over a local resident’s individual efforts to create a trail without approval.
Thursday’s discussion at the South Carroll Senior Center was all about moving on.
A smaller group of 30 people, compared to the more than 70 that showed up in October, were led in a discussion by Carroll County Recreation and Parks Administrator Jeff Degitz who made sure to those in attendance that this was "starting over" for the trail idea in Southern Carroll County.
“There was a line on a map before, but there is not a line anymore,” said Degitz. “While I applaud that individual effort, we do come here tonight without a line on a map. That line now comes from you. We come here tonight with a clean slate.”
The public meeting was used as a brainstorming session, with Degitz asking those in attendance where they think a trail would be best served in the area.
The following connections were proposed:
- Piney Run to Springfield Hospital
- Eldersburg and Sykesville shopping and restaurants
- Freedom Park
- Downtown Sykesville
- The Eldersburg library to those neighborhoods without direct access
- Gyms and recreation centers.
- Morgan Run and the Liberty Reservoir
- Local schools
- The Sykesville park and ride
- Patapsco Valley State Park
- Ways to avoid Route 32 and Liberty Road
- Connect Macbeth Way to Macbeth Way
As far as the mulch spread last fall to create a makeshift trail, Commissioner Doug Howard, District 5, said the county will address what needs to be done to make it not look like a usable trail.
“If there’s something we need to do to make it obvious that it can’t be used, we will,” said Howard stating the signs near the county easement were already taken down.
The next steps in area biking and walking trails includes going through the grant process for the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Bikeway program. The program helps to plan and implement bicycle plans for local and federal agencies with an emphasis on “supporting projects that create bicycle connections between communities and important destinations throughout Maryland,” according to the program’s website.
County officials met with representatives with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration on Jan. 10, with Degitz saying that the discussion surrounded the next steps for the area, which naturally is a feasibility study.
Moving forward, he said that the county will put form a work group that will narrow down the routes discussed at Thursday’s meeting, helping to prepare a grant proposal that will be submitted for the Bikeway program in May in order to get the funds needed to pay for a feasibility study.
The Maryland Department of Transportation is expected to decide on the grant process after the May deadline, awarding funds in either June or July of this year.
The list of organizations suggested by those in attendance for the work group include a representative from the Freedom Area Recreation Council, local homeowner associations, Fairhaven Retirement Community, the South Carroll Business Association, the Town of Sykesville, the Carroll County Public School System, the Freedom Area Citizens Council, Carroll County Recreation and Parks, Springfield Hospital Center, the State Police Training Center, the Sykesville Fire Department, the State Highway Administration, and walking and bicycle groups in the area, including the Eldersburg Road Runners.
The county will compile the list and get in touch with the above organizations to form a workgroup that will meet several times over the next couple of months before presenting their ideas before a bigger public meeting on April 19.