The Iron Horse Trail extension lives.
The Centerville City Council unanimously rejected the controversial Ryan Homes development plan for the Pleasant Hill neighborhood area that would have obliterated the corridor for the Iron Horse Trail extension south of Alex-Bell Road and just west of Clyo Road.
The Monday night vote was 8-0 to reject the proposed development plan, which would have built 98 units on a linear 32-acre parcel that includes the abandoned railroad bed envisioned in Centerville’s bike plan as an extension of the Iron Horse Trail south of I 675.
The development plan has been simmering as the city’s hottest political topic for more than two years, and it packed the house in the Centerville City Council Chambers on Monday night. The crowds overflowed into the City Hall lower level and in the police department building across the Spring Valley Road. About a dozen residents of Pleasant Hill testified, as did four members of Bike Centerville during the two-hour long public hearing.
Many residents of adjacent neighborhoods registered objections to the density of the project, and its effects on property values, traffic volumes, storm runoff and neighborhood aesthetics.
Bike Centerville members testified to the importance of the parcel and the Iron Horse extension in connecting Centerville and Washington Twp. to the region’s trail system – the nation’s largest paved trail network. The Bike Centerville members also talked about the increased quality of life that trails bring, the economic benefits that come from attracting trail users, the work that has already gone into the city’s bike plan, and the expressed wishes of residents for more safe and pleasant places to ride bikes, run, roller blade or walk right where they live.
Bike Centerville members told the council that the group’s mission is to help make the community more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians, and they want to help the city figure out how to do that.
I was one of the members of the new community advocacy group who spoke as a Centerville resident. Centerville residents Stein Pedersen, former co-owner of K&G Bike Shops; and Eric Sauer, of Five Rivers MetroParks also spoke; as did Washington Twp. resident Angela Manuszak, of the Miami Conservancy District.
The council decision doesn’t mean the Iron Horse Trail extension will be built. But it preserves the possibility that the trail can still be constructed on the alignment envisioned in the city’s 2005-approved bike plan, Creating Community Connections. Bike Centerville members said they will be active in building consensus for and seeking solutions to building the extension.
Ken McCall is the database reporter for the Dayton Daily News and an avid cyclist. He is a member of Bike Miami Valley, where he serves as co-chairman of the Regional Advocacy Committee; Bike Centerville, where he also serves as co-chairman; the Dayton Cycling Club; the Ohio Bike Federation; and the League of American Bicyclists. If you have any story ideas or bike news, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (937) 225-2393.