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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, 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. 

Paul Kuegler January 20, 2012 at 01:24 PM
In other words get yourself a bike rack because this trail won't be happening this decade.
Ross Dangel January 20, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Welcome to the "hampster wheel" that is our county government! Lead "hampster", Doug Howard, is showing us just how well he can run the wheel -in reverse. We went from a hybrid alignment that could put a 10 mile trail on the map for less than a $50,000 county investment to going back to square one...that's progress in Carroll County! Since Oct. the county has managed to have 1 meeting to review what they already knew and done nothing else. Perhaps most interesting is what Jeff Degitz and Doug Howard didn't say...that there is any Carroll County govt.(Commissioner) support for such a trail! From personal experience, I would be very wary about investing time in planning something that has no overtly stated county financial support, as it simply won't happen. All the well intentioned wishes about where people want the trail to go and what it should look like will necessarily be constrained by what the county is willing to spend to make it happen. While the county's financial commitment may only be 20% of the trail construction costs, we live in a county that has no dedicated source of revenue for rec & park capital improvements and zero experience putting together hybrid or other municipal trails. With no visible support for spending money on trails, volunteers and the state will soon be spinning their wheels. The lead hampster needs to put his money where his mouth is and stop wasting time on a bunch of planning ahead of any financial commitment to move forward!
Gerald shaw January 21, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Ross, face it, you screwed up and got alot of people angry in the process. You were noticably absent from this meeting. I invite you to join in the process to get this thing done with support from the community. You had good intentions, I think we all understand that. It would be a great demonstration of your character to show that you would persist past the previous setback. I look forward to your assistance rather than sniping that is not constructive at all.
Ross Dangel January 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Gerald, thanks for the offer, but I don't need to waste more time on a trail to demonstrate the quality of my character. Hopefully there aren't still folks in Eldersburg Estates who are angry at me even after they became aware that the mulched trail was neither part of my proposed Freedom Trail alignment or that the idea to connect Springfield Hospital through to that community was the county's idea, not mine, but clearly the county hasn't even publicly acknowledged this. I do wish you and the others the best of luck on this project, but I simply do not trust Doug Howard or the other Commissioners. I hope everyone goes into things with their eyes open here. Trails cost money and without a financial commitment, they go nowhere. Personally, I think that Sykesville is light years ahead of Carroll County in planning trails and it would serve everyone's interests if they were asked to take a lead on connecting Eldersburg.
Jack White January 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM
If it wasn't for Ross Dangel no one would even be talking about a trail. http://tinyurl.com/7hl7r8t This is the county government getting in the way and probably killing a great idea rather than helping see it through to completion. The line as Ross drew it made perfectly good sense. Everything was in place already and would have required a minimal contribution from the county. He worked hard, he was trying to make something good happen, and now he's being treated poorly. We need more people who just go out and try to make things happen. In this case, the bureaucracy wins and we all lose.
Rick January 22, 2012 at 04:32 PM
How much of our tax money has been wasted so far? How much in the future? Oh and how much trail has been actually created? I thought so. Politicians thrive on stalemate and chaos, it keeps them employed. In the mean time, go out, get muddy and blaze your own trail. While you are on your John Deere tending to your yard, we are riding right past you, unseen, unheard, in the woods, having fun! We make no noise, cause no trouble and if we get hurt it's our own fault. Wow, self-reliance, a word that strikes fear into the hearts of politicians everywhere! Join us.

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