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Input sought on walkable, bikeable Connellsville

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By Rachel Basinger
Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 7:48 a.m.
 

Connellsville officials are hoping residents will come to City Hall on Wednesday and give input about when and where they might bike or walk throughout the city.

The workshop, which will begin at 7 p.m., is part of a study being done by Aspect Planning to create a bicycling and walking plan for Connellsville.

Stephen Patchan, a former Connellsville resident, approached council earlier this year and offered to create the plan free of charge.

Patchan said Aspect Planning, his consulting firm, specializes in bicycling community planning. The goal for the plan is to connect neighborhoods to neighborhoods as well as to businesses, parks, schools and the bike trail.

“The project is based more on the town itself than the bike trail, but we will look at how to implement the trail into the study,” Patchan said.

Mayor Charles Matthews agreed, noting the plan is geared more toward getting Connellsville residents riding their bikes in town.

Councilman Brad Geyer said walkable and bikeable communities will make Connellsville more attractive to new business and help increase foot traffic to current businesses.

“A lot of focus has been placed on bringing people off the bike trail into downtown, and now it's time to work on bringing people from the neighborhoods into downtown,” Geyer said.

He added that they hope to put a plan together, which would allow the city to make improvements to its infrastructure on limited funds and better accommodate bikers around town.

Patchan said they hope to outline projects that would expand infrastructure and make it safer for residents to bike around Connellsville. He added that having such a plan in place also puts the city in line for more state and federal funding opportunities.

Geyer said much of the conversation at Wednesday's workshop will be open for all opinions.

After the workshop, Patchan would take residents' comments, do an analysis and come up with ideas for projects.

“Sometime in late winter or early spring we will present our ideas and concepts to council and to the community and see how they respond,” he said.

From there, the plan would be refined and presented for formal adoption to council.

“After that, the city can choose to fund raise, design or even implement parts of the plan,” Patchan said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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