MANSFIELD -- City engineer Bob Bianchi patiently explained to City Council the technical reasons and financial package behind a proposed $1.7 million connector between the B&O Bike Trail and Trimble Road.
"What if this bike trail connector would've been there? Maybe I would've taken that home instead (of Marion Avenue)," said Carr, who described his injuries from the crash, including a "rare posterior shoulder dislocation and a broken vertebra."
"It could have saved a whole lot of trouble, time and money. I'm not here to tell you this bike trail connector and bike paths in general are going to keep accidents like mine from happening," said Carr, an Ashland Source reporter.
"Cyclists will continue to get hit by vehicles because cyclists will never stop riding their bikes on roads. But maybe this bike trail connector will prevent some of those accidents. And that's just one of a hundred reasons you should vote for this," he said.
Finally armed with the facts and the needs, Mansfield City Council unanimously approved on Tuesday evening spending $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project that will link the 18.4-mile trail to one of the city's main corridors.
Bianchi told council members on Tuesday he believes another $600,000 for the project will come from the Richland County Regional Planning Commission.
"There is so much momentum on this project," the engineer said. "I don't want to say 100 percent, but we feel very good about that (regional planning) grant."
At-large Councilman Phil Scott, who was the first to oppose the proposal on Aug. 3, was one of the first to speak in favor Tuesday night during a finance committee meeting.
"Since then, I've got a lot more knowledge about the additional money and kind of what the plans are. Had I known then what I know now, I would not have made that motion (to pull the initial proposal)," said Scott, a finance committee member.
"I realized exactly where the funding was coming from as far as outside sources. I've gotten a significant amount of correspondence from some of my constituents and just other members of the community," Meier said.
"I am wholeheartedly in support of this. I think it would be doing a disservice when we're getting more than half of the funds for this project from outside sources to not follow through with it," she said.
County Commissioner Cliff Mears, a former member of City Council, attended the evening meeting and encouraged council to move forward.
"The last time I was here was January to discuss the Westinghouse initiative and the partnership between the county and the city. I think this is an unprecedented time of partnership between the City of Mansfield and Richland County," Mears said.
"This year alone, we've partnered with the city for $500,000 on the Westinghouse demolition, another $125,000 for the entrance way, which will be preserved from the Westinghouse demolition, $200,000 for the West End streetscape and $500,000 for the Sterkel Park for everyone (project).
"What we're here to talk about today is the additional $500,000 that the county's willing to invest for (the bike trail connector). That's county money just this year ... is $1.825 million to be spent largely, if not exclusively, within the City of Mansfield," Mears said.
"That's unprecedented partnership between the city and the county. And I think we should relish that," he said.
4th Ward Councilman Alomar Davenport, the finance committee chair, said he supported the proposal. But Davenport said he was concerned about the city's 2023 budget amid rising inflation and costs.
He suggested approving $200,000 to allow the project to get started on the engineering and design and then coming back with the rest in October when the city has a better feel for revenue and spending plans for next year.
"We have to do something but it still does not change the fact that I believe the fiscally responsible thing to do is to somehow wait until we know exactly what those numbers look like next year," Davenport said.
His fellow committee members, and other legislators, were in no mood to wait, however.
Scott said he is in his 15th year on City Council and has never seen this level of city/county cooperation.
"I think we need to just pull the band aid off and appropriate the full $500,000 for this project," he said. "I think it's been proven in other cities and other places that the more (connections are made between communities and bike trails), the more the development and the more people want to come here."
Meier, who said she appreciated Davenport's attempt to be a "good steward" of city finances, said she agreed with Scott that it was time to push the project forward.
One by one, other council members spoke in support of approving the project.
At-large Councilwoman Stephanie Zader said she believed the $500,000 to be an investment, not an expense.
"We're getting one-time (ARPA) money that's going to carry on into the future of our city. These paths are things that are going to draw people here. They're things that are going to connect communities," she said.
"This is an investment in our city. I absolutely feel that we should invest this entire amount. We should approve this amount to be invested tonight because it's a show of good faith on our part when all of these (other) people are coming to the table," Zader said.
Chuck Hahn, Cleveland Financial Group, invests in this independent reporting through a Newsroom Partnership.
City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"