Towpath Trail public forum to be held

Towpath Trail public forum to be held
Scott Daniels

The meeting will help determine the route of the trail through Tuscarawas County including a possible trail adjacent to the river at Waterworks Park.


A public forum planned for Monday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. at New Philadelphia City Council chambers will bring a finished Ohio Towpath Trail a little closer to reality. The meeting seeks public input into the process of extending the trail from its current terminus in Zoarville.

“We have been working closely with the city and the community to develop the trail through New Philadelphia,” said Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. “The next part of the project is to complete a study and evaluation to determine the best design for the route, and we will share proposals with council.

“We have been working with the City of New Philadelphia for a long time on this. We’ve just successfully negotiated the relocation of a fence near Waterworks Park, which may figure in the final plan.”

A possible route for the towpath trail will take walkers, joggers and cyclists past the river at the Waterworks fields.

Rice said meeting will be too soon in the process to discuss costs. “We won’t have an estimate of final costs in hand yet at that point. Right now we’ve held public meetings leading up to this point, and we’re ready to move forward with a study to determine the route.”

Rice said this route represents the last leg of the Towpath Trail, which allows recreational travel from Cleveland to where it will wind up in New Philadelphia.

“There’s just not much there now. The southern gateway to the path will likely be at Waterworks Park, but there’s no development yet. Once this is completed, you will be able to connect with any number of trails that will take you around Ohio including the Ohio & Erie Trail in Massillon. You’ll be able to connect up with trails leading to Pittsburgh and then on to Washington, D.C,” Rice said.

The project will see funding from the Ohio & Erie Canalway and matching funds from the city.

The Towpath Trail invites walking, hiking, bicycling and other recreational uses. The path currently sees traffic from about 2.5 million people annually.

“And it all stops at Zoarville,” Rice said. “We would really like to get the trail completed so we can get well into Tuscarawas County and the New Philadelphia area, giving greater and easier access to the trails for the people here as well.”

The trail length between Zoarville and Cleveland is roughly 90 miles.

The path also represents important economic-development possibilities. “That’s a lot of people using the trails every year,” Rice said. “They tend to spend money on food, accommodations and shopping locally. We have seen the kind of boost it can give to an area.”

The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is the path where, from 1827-1913, mules pulled canal boats laden with passengers and goods up and down the historic Ohio & Erie Canal. Today’s trail follows the historic towpath as closely as possible, the exact route determined by historic maps and remnants of the trail.

Though there is no projected date for the trail to be completed, Rice said he is pleased to see the project moving forward. “The information we get from public meetings is invaluable. I hope this one will be well attended.”

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