By MAX FILBY
Findlay is finishing a biking and walking path that will provide a safer way for students to travel from the West Park area to Donnell Middle School.
Funding for the path came from the national Safe Routes To Schools program, which provides federal money for projects that allow students from kindergarten through eighth grade to travel safely to school.
The program has awarded more than $40.4 million to projects in Ohio since 2005, according to Safe Routes.
Findlay’s new path cost $183,000, which came from a federal grant that was doled out to cities by the Ohio Department of Transportation in 2011.
“This is a fantastic initiative,” said Craig Kupferberg, assistant superintendent of Findlay schools. “It ties right in with the push for wellness, too.”
The new path, which incorporates existing sidewalks in spots, runs from Logan Avenue in Findlay, alongside Lima Avenue and Lake Cascades Parkway, then connects to a sidewalk that heads toward McPherson Avenue. From there, students can continue to Donnell School via regular sidewalks, said Nathan Hoy, city engineer.
The asphalt path has already been laid, and city workers will be painting stripes and other signs in the next few weeks.
“We’ve already had some parents tell us thank you for it,” Hoy said. “They seem to really appreciate it.”
The new path is something Kupferberg said he appreciates as an administrator for the district and as a parent.
“I rode with my son over there just to make sure he was taking a safe way,” Kupferberg said.
Although Kupferberg’s son won’t use the new path to get to school, he said the idea to provide a safer way to school “is something (the district) should be doing.”
In the fall, Findlay City Schools will likely start pushing the new path as a method of transportation for students living in the West Park area, said Barb Bish, community relations coordinator for the district.
Don Williams, principal at Donnell, will likely reach out to parents and families to inform them of the new “safe route,” Bish said.
The total amount of the federal grant given to the city to provide safer methods for students to bike and walk to school was about $360,000.
Originally, close to $330,000 of that was to be spent on the path, but then the state scheduled updates to Lima Avenue that would force portions of the path to be removed in the next few years, Hoy said. Instead, the path will later be widened to about 10 feet.
Other portions of the grant money went toward digital speed-detecting signs that can be seen in front of Donnell and Glenwood middle schools and Washington Preschool, Bish said.
Grant money also goes toward the district’s annual bike rodeo, a competition that offers people the chance to win a bike.
“We wish we could say we had the funding to have these put in all over the city, but we really have been able to do a lot with this money,” Bish said.
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