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Rails To Trails event slated for Sunday

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Firelands Rails To Trails has expanded by 3.25 miles extending from Jackson Street in Monroeville west to Sand Hill Road.

A grand opening will be held 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on the trail just west of Ohio 99 on the south side of the Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad tracks.

"We're going to have pony rides and light refreshments," said Rails To Trails president Gordon Oney. "We hope people bring their hiking shoes and bicycles and enjoy this part of the trail.

"There should be some good fall color and the weather is supposed to be nice," he said.

The new section passes through dense trees and open fields and also crosses several small streams. Displays of trail work and historical railroad displays will also be featured in the open house.

Oney said the group has worked on this section for about two years. "We've had a tremendous amount of volunteer work," he said.

Mark Schaffer Excavating and Trucking, Wasiniak Construction and Tom and Mallory Clemons also made significant contributions to the construction, Oney said.

Grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Kodak Foundation and the Huron County Foundation paid for about 70 percent of the $113,000 that Haynes Construction was paid to complete the section.

"We did a lot of manual labor ourselves," Oney said of the about 25 volunteers who have worked on the project.

This new section makes Firelands Rails To Trails about 6 1/2 miles, Oney said, but the trail is not continuous in Monroeville so people must use public roads between the sections. He said there are no signs in the village to direct people to the next section.

Oney said the group's next project will be another three miles heading west from Sand Hill Road to Prairie Road on the east side of Bellevue. "We hope to do that in 2009," Oney said. That would make Firelands Rails To Trails stretch more than 10 miles between Norwalk and Bellevue.

Then the group will work on connecting the sections in Monroeville so walkers and riders don't have to use public streets. Oney said he also hopes to eventually extend the trail in Norwalk.

"One of our greatest hopes is that we can get the trail extended from Northwest Street deeper into the city of Norwalk. We would like to make a connection to the downtown and to the shopping areas," he said.

Plans to eventually work on property the group owns in Townsend Township are still long-term goals, Oney said.

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