County forming work group to guide Freedom area trail system

Group will meet in February to narrow residents' ideas

January 29, 2012|By Katie V. Jones

The first step is always the hardest, they say, but those attending a meeting last week regarding future biking and hiking trails in Eldersburg and Sykesville said they are willing to take that first step — and many more — to realize the goal of a trail system in the Freedom area.

Led by Jeff Degitz, director of Carroll County's Department of Recreation and Parks, the Jan. 19 meeting offered residents a chance to share ideas for future trails — and also for the county's goals regarding pedestrian and bike access.

The session followed up on an October 2010 meeting, organized by 5th District County Commissioner Doug Howard.

Many attending last week's meeting said they hope trails in the community can offer options for residents to reach stores and restaurants in the area while avoiding busy routes 32 and 26 (Liberty Road). Others said they look forward to the recreational benefits including access to local parks and other facilities, including the Warfield Complex, Freedom Park and Piney Run.

Degitz and Barbara Kearney, the county's comprehensive planner, encouraged members of local organizations and homeowners' groups to join a work group that's being formed to discuss what residents want and the best way to reach everyone's goals.

This work group will meet regularly in February in preparation of a March release of grant guidelines by the Maryland Bikeways Program.

With information gathered from the work group — along with insight from another public meeting to be held in April — Degitz said the county plans to apply for a Bikeways grant that will allow a feasibility study of the trail and its affects on the environment, etc.

Once a route is selected and approved, creation of the trail could be funded through Bikeways, the county's public open space program and other grants, Degitz said.

"Once the first piece is in place, it is so much easier to get the second and third pieces in place," Degitz said.

For local residents Lynn and George Shamen, the meeting was a disappointment — in part because they were hoping for something less abstract

"I didn't get much out of that meeting," George Shamen said. "I was hoping to get maps and provide input, but it's hard to say something when you don't know where it is going to be."

"We do have concerns about where the trail goes and … (about) safety," Lynn Shamen added.

Both are avid walkers, however, and are anxious for the project to move forward.

"This is of great interest to us," George said. "If put together right … with a lot of interconnections, it will benefit everyone and give us a new place to walk."

For more information on the work group that will meet in February, contact Jeff Degitz at 410-386-2103.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What should be the first priority for a trail system in and around the Sykesville and Eldersburg area? Tell us below, or email jjoyner@patuxent.com.

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