Clermont County to develop a hike, bike, paddle plan
A committee is being put together to draft a hike, bike and paddle plan for Clermont County. The goal is improving quality of life opportunities and growing economic development.
The inaugural meeting was held at the end of September.
"The first objective is to really identify our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats," explains Scott Gafvert, a development specialist with the county's Department of Community and Economic Development.
That includes understanding the gaps and unmet needs in hike, bike and paddle infrastructure areas and figuring out the best way to address them.
Gafvert notes there are some existing paths and trails — including the Little Miami Scenic Trail and an on-road stretch along U.S. 50 — but they want to add more connections throughout the county to connect some of the smaller communities, and are looking for new opportunities such as connecting to surrounding counties.
"There's a number of benefits to hike/bike infrastructure. It can be an economic development boon," he points out. "It's also a great initiative for health and wellness; quality of life improvements; (it) is attractive to businesses that are looking to locate (here) — they have to be able to attract workforce and talent. We all know that's a major issue. And connectivity, too. There is a transportation aspect to it, maybe a little bit less so in Clermont County than in our more denser communities, but you have to start somewhere."
He adds there's a lot of research that shows this type of infrastructure adds a lot of tax benefits to a county, as well.
The committee will be comprised of county municipal leaders, Clermont County Parks, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, ODOT, the Army Corps of Engineers, bicycling and trails groups, and others. Gafvert expects to have a plan ready in about a year so they can go after state and federal funding.
"The big hurdle in all this is funding," he concludes. "We'd like to have a set set of visions and goals, and then a plan to back it up so that when the funding does become available, we're ready to pounce."