Anyone who spends anytime near River Trail knows that it is an incredible community asset. Young, old, cyclists, walkers, skateboarders, wheel chairers, dog walkers, runners and additional tourists of all types and sizes use it daily - year-round.
Even in the deepest snow, it amazes me to see the number of foot prints on the trail.
Three of us established a River Trail Maintenance Fund through the Marietta Community Foundation about three years ago. Each is a member of the Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club. The fund is designed to provide money for needed repairs and improvements on the existing and proposed sections of the trail.
The fund has played a critical role in providing an opportunity for people to sponsor trees along the trail following the vandalism of trees originally planted by Lowe's along the Washington County Fairgrounds portion of the trail. Nineteen trees were damaged and 10 died. They have now been replaced with 38 trees, the two most recent dedicated to the late Dr. Rollie Fredericks and Birdwatcher's Digest co-founder and former foundation president William "Bill" Thompson II in the upper end of East Muskingum Park.
The fund has about $2,000, which obviously is insufficient to do much in the way of either repairs or improvements. Money recently has been used to purchase mulch for the butterfly garden at Front and Wooster and to cover the tree bulbs uncovered by the Ohio River along the levee in front of the Levee House Cafe. Without the mulch, the trees may have died and remain threatened until repair work is completed.
The fund is not sufficient for repairs on the levee, where severe erosion has eaten away large amounts of topsoil and vegetation.
The city repaired damage a year ago by putting in top soil, seeding and watering for two weeks.
Erosion experts have told me that is not adequate. Besides good topsoil, a netting material must be installed with grass seed that includes annual rye for quick growth and perennial grasses. The work needs to be done as soon as possible because a good root base is necessary prior to the Ohio Sternwheel Festival in September. It may take a community watering effort once the erosion damage is repaired to increase the chances of success for stabilizing the steep slope below the trail. Erosion already has eaten into at least eight places at Fourth and Ohio streets. The erosion is undercutting the new section of trail there.
The river's flow and power will only increase damage unless the existing erosion is repaired and properly maintained between now and sternwheel festival. Waiting until after sternwheel will subject thousands of visitors and residents to unsafe and unstable river frontage not accommodating to blankets, chairs or people.
Those wishing to donate to the tax-exempt River Trail Fund fund are encouraged to do so to the Marietta Community Foundation at P.O. Box 77, Marietta, Ohio, 45750. Everyone also is encouraged to let city officials know how important the trail is to your quality of life.
Financial pressures are making some people think extending the trail above Duck Creek to the Comfort Inn and the spur to Don Drumm Stadiums are not priorities. Please understand that anyone with disabilities or attempting to shop either downtown or out Pike Street will have much more accessibility and be more safe with these two sections of trail.
We also need to be thinking ahead to connecting the existing River Trail with Devola so the Marietta Soccer League fields and Marietta Aquatic Center are accessible in both directions to people using non-motorized transportation.
Building of the sewer line from Devola to Marietta provides the best opportunity for the trail to be built along Ohio 60 but off road on the sewer right of way. This will greatly improve safety along a now dangerous section of heavily traveled road.
For information or questions about River Trail: email@example.com or 373-1784.
Roger G. Kalter, Marietta
Democratic candidate for 1st Ward, Marietta City Council