Effort to connect community through multi-use trails
Story by Kimberly Jenkins
Portsmouth Connex has a vision — and wants to share it.
The nonprofit group has been working to organize and create bicycle and multi-use trails connecting various points throughout the Portsmouth area since 2006, with the goal of improving the community through economic viability, recreational activities and health.
The group has long been interested in promoting tourism and access along the riverfront, providing cyclists, runners and walkers safe routes with appropriate signage and amenities such as maps, water, bike racks, etc. Ultimately, the group believes this will help Portsmouth’s transformation into a bicycle-friendly, health-conscious and forward-thinking community. City government, the Scioto County Health Coalition and the Southern Ohio Port Authority are collaborating.
A recent grant has allowed Connex to focus on Mound Park.
“Because we received the Scioto Foundation Scioto 365 grant, we are beginning our plans for our Project ROMP,” says Wendi Waugh, vice president of Connex. The project, Revitalize Our Mound Park, is supported through a collaborative effort of the Scioto Foundation Scioto 365 2017 Award, the city of Portsmouth and Connex. The 365 Award from the Scioto Foundation is the first-ever award.
The grant allows Connex to build a paved path that goes through the park, with future plans to tie it in to a larger project along the riverfront.
“We are going to pave an activity path, with the idea that friends, family and neighbors can have a walking path and kids can possibly ride bikes on it,” Waugh said. “The city has pledged to do some lighting and security cameras, and the Portsmouth Rotary Club and some other civic/service clubs are going to help with other things associated with the effort.”
The activity route Connex has planned is designed to be used by all people of all ages and abilities — from parents pushing strollers and children on tricycles to joggers, walkers and those with handicap needs. The route will be relatively flat and at least eight feet in width.
“Studies show that as many as 60 percent of individuals, when asked about interest in cycling, believe they would like to try it. Still, a large percentage of those individuals do not know how to get started,” said Waugh, who is administrative director for Southern Ohio Medical Center Cancer Services and Community Health & Wellness. “We are lucky to have the group Portsmouth Connex active in the community locally.”
Mound Park is the largest green space in the city and represents a unique opportunity for positive change.
“We are really going to try to highlight the history of Mound Park. There are the mounds — that’s why it’s named Mound Park,” Waugh said. “It’s only a fraction of the original earthworks that were here in Scioto County that were mapped back in the 1840s. Connex has actually hired an Ohio historical archaeological firm that is doing some of the ground maturity of that ground and is going to identify the locations of the mounds. We‘ll have really good pictures of where those are. We are going to build a monument to talk about the history of the mounds and also to help support the building of the path. People can buy bricks and can buy a place on a bench there. A $10,000 or more sponsor will also be on the actual monument.”
While Portsmouth plans lighting and security cameras for the park, there is an active neighborhood watch program established. In addition, there are others dedicated to the cleanliness and preservation of the park. The city or other parties will seek additional funding and potential grants for restrooms and water facilities.
A fundraising campaign for Project ROMP ends May 1, and those interested may visit connexmoves.org/romp/ for details. Connex expects project completion by the end of the year.
With spring just around the corner, people will want to get out and smell the roses. And it’s possible that a nice place to do just that in the Portsmouth area is coming sooner rather than later.