Hudson -- The Veterans Trail, also known as the Spine Trail, could link the northwest corner of Hudson to the downtown area and into Stow.
Council members at their June 11 meeting were split on whether to proceed with the first phase along Hines Hill Road or divert park funds to other proposed trails.
The multi-purpose trail along Hines Hill Road would be funded with $800,000 from the 2013 parks budget. The other three phases, each $1 million to develop, would be funded from grants, if approved, and park funds.
Park Superintendent Eric Hutchinson at a Council workshop reviewed the history of Veterans Trail which begins on the border of Boston Heights, runs along Hines Hill Road, turns south on Prospect Road and joins up to an existing section of the trail to downtown. The trail continues across Veterans Way, along Ellsworth Meadows Golf Course and south to Stow.
Council President David Basil and members William Wooldredge and Hal DeSaussure supported the parks' plan.
"It's a long-time plan with resident involvement thought out for Hudson and regionally," DeSaussure said. "It's shortsighted to second guess this project at this time. It's clear the park board and residents believe the Spine Trail is its number one priority."
Council member Alex Kelemen did not support the plan because few people live on Hines Hill Road, and he said there were more needs in other parts of town.
"How does the Spine Trail connect with all of Hudson," Kelemen said. "Others [trails] are just as much a priority. Why is this one number one?"
Council member Dennis Hanink said he doubted the city would receive funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for future sections and wanted to spend money on trails closer to downtown.
"I don't think a trail on Hines Hill Road benefits Hudson residents," Hanink said.
Council member Keith Smith was undecided and wanted a map to show all connections in the city. Council member Dan Williams was absent.
Mayor William Currin supported the plan but does not have a vote on Council.
"We need to start somewhere," Currin said. "The area has the least connectivity but a park is being developed out there."
Hanink said the "Maple Grove," the proposed name for the 293-acre park, managed by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, wouldn't be developed for five years. But Basil said "Maple Grove" would be developed in 2014.
"I hate to forgo the opportunity [for grants] if we abandon the project now," Basil said.
A representative from Metro Parks familiar with the information regarding the Hudson property was out of the office at press time.
Hutchinson said the park board wanted to pursue the trail section along Hines Hill Road because the road was being repaved and hoped for cost savings, but only a small berm was approved at a previous meeting. The park staff began searching for alternative funding for the other sections from Clean Ohio Trails Fund, administered by Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study funding.
The parks department won't know about funding until the ODNR grants are awarded in August for 2014 funding. Friends of the Hudson Parks received letters of support for the project from 34 individuals and organizations and pledges for $16,000 from six individuals and organizations, Hutchinson said.
After surveying citizens, who wanted multi-purpose trails that linked neighborhoods to parks and the downtown, the Hudson park board created a Parks Master Plan to establish a citywide trail network, which was approved in 2000 by the park board and city Council, Hutchinson said.
"These findings reinforced the high value that Hudson residents place on trails and connectivity," Hutchinson said. "This trail has often been referred to as the 'Spine Trail' as it will serve as the main connection in the proposed trail system."