The Clintonville Area Commission last month reaffirmed its support for the Old Beechwold connector bikeway project.
The plan, presented by the city of Columbus, calls for a 150-foot long, asphalt, shared-use path between the Old Beechwold and Delawanda neighborhoods in District 6. Specifically, it would connect the western end of Jeffrey Place with West Rathbone Avenue.
The area of the proposed Old Beechwold connector is city property, and the dirt path has been used for many years by walkers and bicyclists to access Graceland Shopping Center without needing to traverse North High Street.
The plan, an element of the Clintonville Bikeway Network, would develop an accessible 10-foot-wide shared-used path that would be usable by more residents. Signs and road markings would guide users through the neighborhoods.
Representatives from both neighborhood associations spoke during the June 2 CAC meeting. Jennifer Alexander, president of the Old Beechwold neighborhood association, voiced some of the concerns that residents of her neighborhood had about the project.
“We don’t understand the need for this particular connector, and we feel that these funds could be better allocated and serve a much greater number of people in the Clintonville community,” Alexander said.
Alexander added that increased bike traffic through Old Beechwold could present some safety concerns, while also acknowledging that whether the project is constructed is not up to the Old Beechwold neighborhood alone.
Concerns about materials used for the path, along with excessive signage along the path, and its width, also were mentioned, as was the privacy of neighborhood residents. Old Beechwold is also designated as both a historic neighborhood and a nature preserve, Alexander said.
“What we are looking for, should this move forward, is to work with the interested parties and to make sure that it is in keeping with the historic neighborhood and the nature preserve,” Alexander said.
Rosie Quinzon-Bonello, president of the Delawanda Residents Association, said that although her organization had similar concerns about elements of the plan, such as signage, her association fully supported the plan.
After hearing public comments, commissioners presented a draft resolution that reaffirmed the funding for the project under the city’s Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund.
Joe Motil, District 6 commissioner, presented a series of amendments to the resolution. The proposed amendments led to a debate among the commissioners concerning the language and content of his proposed changes.
Commissioners voted 6-3 against the amendments.
Following discussion and minor edits to the resolution, the CAC voted 8-1 in favor of the project.
The resolution included language advising the city to consider specific community comments in making design changes to the project, including narrowing the path, minimizing signage, considering alternative paving materials, and traffic calming on Rathbone and Milton avenues.
The resolution further advised the city to keep the neighborhood associations advised of progress on final design and construction, and to coordinate the SUP project with other infrastructure projects planned or under way in Old Beechwold.
Construction on the Old Beechwold connector is scheduled to be completed in spring 2023.