Proposed legislation creates council for trails
PARKERSBURG – Proposed draft legislation that would create a Wood County Alternative Transportation Council to facilitate, coordinate and plan a countywide system of trails and tie-ins to existing trails was submitted to the Wood County Commission on Monday for consideration.
The council would be made up of 20 individuals; five appointed by the county commission; two each would be named by the four municipalities and others would be representing various other entities,” said Kim Coram. According to the proposed legislation, the other council members would be named by the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, West Virginia Department of Transportation, West Virginia Department of State Parks, Wood County Parks and local historian groups. The members would serve two years, without pay, but could seek reimbursement for expenses.
“Once we have this legislation, then we could start the council,” Coram said, noting “Wood County is setting the standard,” that other counties in the state are hoping to join once the council is in place.
According to the proposal, the council would facilitate a countywide system of interconnected landscape linkages, conservation corridors, greenbelts, transportation and recreational corridors and trails, regional parks and preserves, ecological sites, cultural/historic/recreation sites using land-based trails that connect urban, suburban and rural areas of the county and facilitate creation and expansion of the countywide system of water trails.
The council would create, implement and maintain a master plan for the Wood County Alternative Transportation System, maintain an inventory of the system, recommend priorities in the trails system, promote greenways and trails, support organizations, and support the system through engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation.
“This is based on a national model,” Coram said.
Development of the trails would probably come from grant funding, according to Coram.
“From time to time the county has funding available for future trail development, one benefit of this committee might be to provide ideas for trails and continue to organize and create a unified trail system,” Commissioner Blair Couch said.
“Part of the council’s duties would be to prioritize these projects,” Coram said.
“This seems a good way to bring everyone together and coordinate everything and they can develop a comprehensive plan,” said commission President Wayne Dunn.
County officials said the next step will be to have Prosecutor Jason Wharton review the proposed legislation. Then a public hearing could be scheduled for comment and allow a comment period. Then if approved, it would be implemented in the form of an order.
“If we’re going to do this, we need to commit to it,” Dunn said.
Coram has kept the commissioners updated on the progress of development of area hiking/biking trails. She was earlier hired by the county commission to inventory area trails, which were compiled on a website theopam.com. Wood and Washington counties have 57 trails, parks and paths for public use.
For more information on area trails go to theopam.com/communities.