PERRYSBURG - After receiving petitions of both support and opposition to a multipurpose path, city council moved forward with plans to use the path as the only item in the first phase of its riverfront renovation.
Residents again offered concern and support Tuesday after packing Monday's Recreation Committee meeting, the first public discussion of a sweeping, long-term design plan to renovate Orleans, Riverside and Hood parks, creating more access to and use of the Maumee River.
Council did not fund any engineering, only giving its stamp of approval for city administrators to further investigate installing the path. City Administrator Bridgette Kabat estimated a $600,000 cost for a section connecting to the existing paved trail and running from Orleans Park to Riverside Park.
Perrysburg would pay just 20 percent of the cost of that section thanks to a grant from Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. Money from that grant helped install the existing path, but the rest may not come until 2019, though there's hope it could be moved up, Kabat said.
The TMACOG grant requires the trail have a hard surface to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Council members agreed to seek further information on what surfaces are acceptable, noting that they have the option to refuse grant funding if it doesn't match what they want to see in a path.
While several spoke in support Tuesday, more comments were heard from residents who said the path will interfere with their property or create problems in the area.
Alex Heard, of East Front Street, expressed his "unbridled support" for the entire $26 million plan, not just the path, and presented a citizen petition to match his own enthusiasm. He called the plan creative and exciting, asking council members to be proactive in furthering recreation options at the riverfront.
Deborah Born, the first to speak, offered a petition rejecting the entire plan, including the trail, which she said contained more than 250 signatures.
"It should be noted that no one I've talked to is for this plan, except for maybe three people," she said.
Denny Barrett, of West Front Street, said he would have signed the petition against the entire project, but upon hearing council was only approving the path, a small portion of the plan, he was "all for it."
Dan Judson, who owns three pieces of property on Front Street and identified himself as an engineer, said speeding drivers are already a problem in the area, and he feared adding the path would just bring more traffic. He said drivers routinely race up and down the road at high speeds.
Charles Pfleghaar, also of Front Street, said installing the path could get in the way of residents accessing their property via Water Street.
Diane Bishop, who said she favors preserving the natural environment and opposed the paved trail, asked council to widen its sample and talk to more residents before moving forward.
Council member Mike Olmstead, however, said while the details haven't yet been worked out, the plan appears to match the wishes of most residents, who have long asked for expansion of the area.
"What is being considered tonight does in general, in my opinion, seem to be a fairly common theme expressed in both camps, and that is to have something with this path/trail, whatever we're going to call it," he said.
"Bottom line is, acceptance of this motion by no means has any final determinant on anything other than let's explore Phase 1 and move forward."
In other business, council approved:
• A contract with Proudfoot Associates for design of Jefferson Street improvements, not to exceed $110,000.
• An agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for resurfacing of Ohio 25 from Findlay Street to Front Street. ODOT will pay 80 percent of resurfacing costs, with the city picking up the remaining share as well as 100 percent of all curb and catch basin work. Perrysburg's estimated contribution totals about $224,000.
• Purchase of three Chevrolet Tahoes for the police department at a total cost of $83,618.