Lobbying for bike trails: County park board asked to connect BG to Perrysburg

The Slippery Elm Trail is so busy, it may need a traffic signal.

It could definitely use a connection to the northern part of the county, said Frank McLaughlin, a Bowling Green resident and former park board member, at Tuesday’s monthly Wood County Park District board meeting.

“The Slippery Elm Trail may be one of the most — perhaps the most — utilized park facility in the park district,” McLaughlin said. “There’s some days down there where it’s like a freeway.”

The trail is 13 miles of asphalt between Bowling Green and North Baltimore.

McLaughlin would like to see that connected into a Perrysburg trail.

“I’d like the park district to keep on their radar the possibilities that exist in the north part of the county,” he said.

There has been some discussion about connecting the North Coast Inland Trail, which runs from Elmore to almost Bellevue, and the Cannonball Trail, which runs from Monclova to Liberty Center.

The northern part of Wood County is sorely lacking in bicycle trails, McLaughlin said.

“What we have up there are surface streets designated as part of a biking experience,” he said.

The public has given tremendous support to the park district in usage and in levy dollars, McLaughlin said.

“This is just something to consider. I realize this is a big ask,” he said, adding that it would be a very expensive project.

He suggested pursing grant opportunities, possibly with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.

‘”t would be nice to do something to get from Bowling Green up to Waterville/Perrysburg area, up to the north part of the county,” McLaughlin said.

He added that Ottawa County parks is finishing the west end of the Northcoast Inland Trail to Millbury.

“Bike trails can be a real big economic boom. I think you can see that at Elmore … it has a bike shop and ice cream shop,” McLaughlin said.

Chris Smalley, Wood County Park District director, said that he has a meeting in March with Ottawa County park officials on the Northcoast trail.

“We’re still actively meeting on the Chessie Circle Trail,” he added.

This is a former rail corridor that runs from Ohio 65/Bates Road in Wood County to Laskey Road in Toledo.

“We’re well aware of it and it’s a work in progress,” Smalley said.

In other bicycle business at the meeting, the board:

• Heard that Slippery Elm Trail maintenance, which fell behind due to staffing and the pandemic, is continuing.

“We’ve taken a more aggressive stance this year,” Smalley said, adding that many park departments are involved, along with other county assistance.

• Authorized the district to participate with the Ohio Department of Transportation for bicycle signage along the Slippery Elm Trail.