Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings spent nearly 30 minutes Tuesday with a 14-year-old Girl Scout as she laid out a presentation that would create, if grant funding could be secured, A more than one-mile- biking and walking trail for the city of Hillsboro in the first phase of a three-phase project.
Madalyn Ross of Hillsboro is a member of Troop 321 and is finishing her Cadette year in Girl Scouts before progressing to the Senior level.
She said that more than 50 hours of research and planning went into the Tuesday morning presentation, which was viewed in the mayor’s office by both Hastings and Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie, and served as an additional purpose of earning Ross the Girl Scout Silver Award.
“The Silver Award is pretty much a presentation that involves something that a person would like to see change in their community,” Ross said. “This bike trail addresses some needs like improving green space, using an unused railroad track bed and cleaning up abandoned areas, in addition to increasing customers to our small businesses, having a safe in-town walking and biking path and putting Hillsboro on local Ohio websites for more tourist exposure.”
Her vision for the future entails 1.13 miles of right-of-way from the long-abandoned Baltimore & Ohio Railroad that is now owned by the city of Hillsboro, with the exception of 2.7 acres owned by Brad Roades of Landscapes & Outerspaces.
The “concept phase” discussed Tuesday would lead into phase one of her proposal. She said the trail would begin behind the Dairy Queen along U.S. Route 50 on Hillsboro’s east side and following the old railroad grade, would extend past the dead end of Windsor Drive, curve to the northeast and cross SR 124 between Oak Street and Highland Avenue, before turning eastward again and terminating at the city park at Railroad Street.
Ross feels with proper easements or a buyback from the landscape company, the bike trail’s initial phase could become a reality in the next few years.
If grant funding can be secured and phase one is completed, phase-two would take the trail, which she tentatively called the Sweet Treat Express Trail, from the Dairy Queen on the western edge of Hillsboro westward on the left side of U.S. 50 to Hoagland where it would end at the S & K Dairy Cup, again following the grade bed of the old B & O Railroad.
She said the third and final phase would connect to a bike trail at Liberty Park.
Christina Ross, who is both Madalyn’s mother and troop leader, said additional easements would be required to enable phase two to make the more than three mile trek to Hoagland.
“Everything about this is family oriented,” Christina Ross said. “You start up at the railroad park and go to Dairy Queen, then cross Route 50 and bike across the countryside before winding up at Hoagland where there’s miniature golf and ice cream.”
Hastings had high praise for Madalyn Ross’ presentation, saying Roades had already told him of his willingness to grant an easement or sell the land back to the city.
“I don’t think this would be that hard to do, frankly,” Hastings said. “It wouldn’t get done while I’m in office, but it could get started so that when the next mayor takes over everything is in place so it can continue.”
He said that he would submit Ross’ proposal to the city’s grant writer and also give it to State Senator Bob Peterson and Leadership Highland Coordinator Brooke Beam, both of whom he felt could provide the momentum necessary to move the project forward.
Madalyn Ross said her proposal, if approved, would have a positive impact on the local business community.
“It would promote our town regionally and nationally,” she said. “There are magazines and websites out there that rank small cities like Hillsboro on their availability for walking and biking, just like we see for the Little Miami Bike Trail over near Lebanon and the one in Sabina, and I think this would really put Hillsboro on the map as a destination for a lot of people.”
Reach Tim Colliver @ 937-402-2571.