Phil Gagnon rides along the Bear Creek Greenway near the Ashland dog park in this file 2013 file photo.

Bear Creek Greenway extension proposed in Ashland

Proposals to be unveiled to the public Thursday night would extend the Bear Creek Greenway in Ashland from the dog park to North Mountain Park.

A three-phase approach is proposed: An interim route would utilize some existing roadways to link the sites. A short-term route would use roadways but also include bridges over the waterway. A permanent route would run mostly creekside.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at North Mountain Park Nature Center, 620 N. Mountain Ave.

“Feasibility analysis has been performed. We are bringing the draft to the public. This is kind of just the initial open house,” said Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Michael Black. “Before we go forward with any final plans to approve it, we would do other meetings with the parks, transportation and planning commissions.”

Senior designer Christo Behm with Alta Planning + Design, Inc. will lead the presentation in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Bear Creek Greenway Foundation.

Anyone interested in the Greenway, private owners along Bear Creek, and those involved in planning and development are invited to attend the session, which will run to 8 p.m.

The city’s parks and public works departments and the Greenway Foundation shared the $35,000 cost of the report, said Foundation Secretary Mike Gardiner. The foundation also will work to secure funds for construction.

“About a year ago we contracted with JWA (John Watt Associates) to help us with fundraising and reaching out to find revenue,” said Gardiner. “We will continue to seek money and grants and pursue different options.”

Funds for the interim route using existing roadways might be included in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, said Black. Bridges are the most expensive items on the routes, he said.

The study looked at three potential alignments. A permanent route is covered by the first alignment study, while the interim and short-term routes are in the second. The third would have created a pathway beside Ashland Creek, running from the dog park to Hersey Street through Ashland Creek Park, then down Hersey to North Mountain Park. That alignment is not recommended in the study.

On the proposed interim route, the path would not cross Bear Creek, and no private land would need to be acquired to complete it. From the dog park it would go down Nevada Street, then up Oak Street to Sleepy Hollow, then to the creekside.

On the proposed short-term plan, the route would go from the dog park down Nevada Street to a bridge across the creek, with another bridge closer to Mountain Avenue to connect to Riverwalk Park. Estimated cost for work to build both the interim and short-term routes is $1.98 million.

The proposed permanent route would have an estimated $2.54 million cost and would provide the most direct connection. Some private property or rights of way would need to be obtained. Users would continue from the current terminus down a road next to the former Harold Hardesty property recently purchased by the city. A third bridge a little upstream from the current Oak Street vehicle bridge would be included.

Routes that would be constructed in initial stages would be left in place.

“None of the routes will be ended after we get all of them in,” said Black. “It will provide a lot more connectivity in that area. There’s hardly anything that has connectivity in that area.”

The highest priorities in the process included fostering connectivity, avoiding the Bear Creek floodway, minimizing conflicts with motor vehicles and creating a high-value experience.

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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