The Baileys needs your help now! Athens County Commissioners need to fund the best bet we have for a stronger economic future for Athens County, the Baileys Trail System.
It has been a long time since I have seen or talked with many of you, but I hope you are all well, especially during these unique times. I am writing to you as a supporter, advocate, and user of the Baileys Trail System. Many people have worked tirelessly out of sheer passion and love for making a difference in SE Ohio to bring the first 14 miles of trails to fruition. If you have been on the trails or followed social media, one thing is very clear, both locals and visitors LOVE the Baileys. The first 14 miles were designed to lower the barrier of entry by providing multiple user groups with a positive trail experience. For proof, see the latest post by Penny Shelton on Facebook. Last week when I was out there I saw a grandfather with his 13 year old grandson riding together having so much fun. On recent weekends, there have consistently been over 40 cars in the parking lot by 10am. All this excitement and joy from just 14 miles! Just imagine what will happen when we get to 88 miles, but in order to get there we need your help. And we need it now! We need to reignite the show of support for the trails to the Athens County Commissioners, much in the same manner we did with City Council; however, it will need to look a little different because of COVID-19.
What we know?
The Athens County Commissioners set aside $90,000 in the budget for Baileys construction this year; however, funds were not released once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Athens County Commissioners have recently updated their budget expectations, showing a 2% reduction in expected revenue. The budget line item for Baileys construction remains.
What we need from the Commissioners?
We need the Athens County Commissioners to match the annual $90K commitment to the Baileys Trails that the City of Athens made in December 2019. They can start the commitment by providing the $90,000 that they already set aside this year. The City of Athens has also committed $35,000 toward local match for the State funding to build the next 11 miles of the Baileys Trails, which is already under construction.
How can you help?
There are several options for you to help. Please feel free to do one, all of them, or anything in between)
- Email the commissioners expressing your support for the Baileys Trail System. Tell them how important the trail system is to you and Please include all three commissioners on the email.
- Lenny Eliason- firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chris Chmiel- email@example.com
- Charlie Adkins- firstname.lastname@example.org
- also CC Athens City Mayor Steve Patterson (email@example.com) and Chauncey Village Mayor Amy Renner (firstname.lastname@example.org), the respective Chair and Vice-Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA), the organization that is responsible for management of the Baileys Trail System.
- If you live in or near Athens County, then write a letter to the editor of either the Athens News (email@example.com) or the Athens Messenger (firstname.lastname@example.org) that expresses why you support the county helping fund the Baileys Trail System.
- Show your support for funding for the Baileys Trails project by tuning in to the County Commissioners weekly Zoom meetings (link: https://zoom.us/j/358908636 ). The Athens Bicycle Club will work on getting the word out on the scheduled time that the Baileys is on the agenda each week. The meetings start at 9:30 am every Tuesday, so I know not everyone can take time to do this during the work day, but the more presence we have on the meetings the more impact our message will have. Tune in to the Commissioners Meeting tomorrow, July 21 at 10:30 am for the next discussion on the Baileys Trails funding with the County Commissioners.
Here are a few points that could help you get started with any of the above. This is not exhaustive but a start.
- The county is last to the table to fund and support, when they should have been first
- At the November 18th, 2019 City Council Meeting- Chris Chmiel started speaking at 1:59 (https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=2364184343703818&ref=watch_permalink ) and said several things so watch it, specifically he said, “… The commissioners we’re waiting for you to take action, but I believe we are supportive. The fact that the Wayne came to us with this innovative idea is I believe is a god sent I think”
- We are still waiting for the County Commissioners to make a positive move
- Local advocates helped bring the city to the table along with so many community advocates and various groups. We have helped to creat support across Federal, State, and Local jurisdictions.
- The County Commissioners wanted ORCA to be created so they have a say in the project and what happens on Wayne NF land that they do not own. Done. The Wayne National Forest agreed and ORCA was created.
- Our partner, Quantified Ventures is losing steam and the ability to stay involved in the project. Their involvement brought State and the Federal support the project, but the county needs to act.
- Many entities have already invested or committed almost $8M into the Baileys project:
- The U.S. Forest Service has contributed: $1,200,000
- National Forest Foundation/REI $150,000
- Transportation Alternatives Funds: $1,500,000
- Clean Ohio Trail Fund: $224,780
- Recreational Trails Program: $300,000
- Abandoned Mine Land Funds: $1,900,000
- Appalachian Regional Commission POWER Grant: $1,235,727
- Community Development Block Grant neighborhood Revitalization Grant: $515,000
- Other partners have contributed: $885,000
Thanks again for your time in helping us get the Baileys across the finish line.