MOUNT VERNON — Monday night’s Mount Vernon City Council meeting was dedicated to the memory of former council member and past president Chuck Dice. The gesture was designated by a red rose placed at the Second Ward seat Dice occupied for years. Dice passed away Aug. 29.
During the legislative portion of the meeting, council heard a second reading on a resolution that would allow for the rehabilitation of the railroad trestle just east of the viaduct and a smaller trestle on Dry Creek. Passage of the measure would also move plans forward to construct a bike path from the viaduct to Memorial Park. The trail would eventually be linked to the Heart of Ohio Trail at Foundation Park and be part of the 450 mile Ohio to Erie Trail.
Pat Crow, director of the Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau addressed council during a committee meeting to discuss the economic impact the rails-to-trails systems has in Knox County. Crow said tourism brings in over $80 billion a year to the county, which places it within a similar impact as agriculture. Over $2.2 million in taxes is collected in the county based on tourism spending.
Crow said the Ohio to Erie Trail is “evolving” and moving more and more from roadways to trails like the Heart of Ohio Trail, the Kokosing Gap Trail and the Mohican Valley Trail.
“In order to make things work, you have to pay them forward,” Crow said, quoting former downtown businessman Walter Rudin, when he explained to council that he believes passage of this legislation will be beneficial to Mount Vernon, as well as Knox County.
If approved, the project will be funded largely by a Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation. The city’s portion would be just over $250,000, which includes $85,000 in engineering fees. The Knox County Park District has already pledged around $36,000 as local matching funds for the grant.
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