Officials: Stay off trail until opening event

MARIETTA – Completion of the third phase of Marietta’s River Trail will be celebrated early next month, but until then bicyclists and pedestrians should stay off the nearly one-mile newest segment of the pathway, the city administration said during Thursday’s Marietta City Council meeting.

“The city will celebrate the grand opening of this latest phase of our beautiful River Trail with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Oct. 4, at 1 p.m.,” said Mayor Joe Matthews.

He said the trail segment opening would take place at the terminus of the trail’s second phase near the corner of Fourth and Ohio streets.

“But I would like to remind citizens that Phase 3 is still an active work site until the morning of Oct. 4,” Matthews said. “So I request that everyone remain away from the site until after the ribbon cutting to ensure safety and timely completion of the project.”

City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp noted the trail has no safety railing installed and the contractor still has equipment along the trail that will soon be used to install a top coat of asphalt.

The third phase extends the River Trail from Fourth and Ohio streets to Jefferson Street just north of the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The next phase, originally scheduled to be constructed in 2014, had to be delayed until 2015 after the city was not approved for an $871,166 Alternative Transportation Grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to help pay for the next trail extension.

In other business Thursday, council heard the first readings of three pieces of legislation that would change the zoning classification of the Memorial Health System’s Wayne Street, Selby Hospital and Marietta Memorial Hospital campuses to “H-M”, or Hospital-Medical Zoning Districts.

The new zoning designation was approved earlier this year by council with the understanding the health system intended to apply for the zoning change at all three campuses. Health system officials say the special zoning would help expedite future building projects on the properties by eliminating the need to obtain council approval for every upgrade.