Franklin Township Trails Advisory Committee Elects New Chair and Discusses Comprehensive Trail Plan

In the recent Franklin Township Trails Advisory Committee meeting, progress was made in the reorganization of the committee and the advancement of the township’s comprehensive trails plan. Vanessa Jones was unanimously elected as the new chair for 2024, with Anarie Orlowski as vice chair and Chris Gonda as secretary. The committee’s meticulous work in updating the pathways and trails plan draft emerged as a focal point, with members reviewing and debating the inclusion of detailed descriptions of local flora and fauna, trail features, and potential health equity impacts.

During the meeting, members delved into the specifics of the pathways and trails plan draft. The discussion centered on the content updates, including an enriched table of contents, demographic insights, and an assessment of local health. A particular emphasis was on the miles of forest trails throughout the township. The members debated notable features along the JFK Boulevard path, such as cross streets, parks, and points of interest, including the JFK Memorial and Googly Marone Park. Further attention was given to the Butler Road and Deont Lane trails; members suggested adding specific plant and animal species to the trail descriptions to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the environment.

The committee also scrutinized updated maps for various trails, including the Graber woods, Bunker Hill Environmental Center, JFK Trail, John Clyde Memorial native grasslands preserve, and Memorial Forest. Feedback led to suggestions for map improvements and additional features, such as labeling the disc golf area correctly and increasing trail visibility. The maps, which were a result of five years of efforts, including GPS mapping, will be sent to the planning director for review and possible inclusion in the master plan.

A notable debate touched on the life expectancy disparities between different township areas and the potential role of trail access in addressing health equity. The committee recognized the importance of making trails accessible to densely populated regions to bridge this gap. This segued into discussions about the Advisory Board of Health’s role in reviewing the local health assessment and action plan, with an eye toward projects that could impact health equity.

In terms of community engagement and trail promotion, the Trails Advisory Committee considered strategies to increase awareness and usage of the trails. They discussed employing the local newspaper for marketing and the success of distributing trail maps at community events. A proposal was made to create a one-page write-up and map for inclusion in the township’s newsletter and to use QR codes to promote the trails. The committee also proposed educational programs and field trips for children.

Updates on trail conditions prompted a proposal for a Google spreadsheet to record monthly reports on the trails, creating a shared document to track ongoing issues and requests sent to the Department of Public Works (DPW). There was broad support for an organized system to maintain records of requests, their prioritization, and status. The committee resolved to create a Google form to internally record and prioritize trail issues before considering making it public.

The committee welcomed Robert Kovacs as a new member and discussed the addition of a trail at Non Williams Park. They reviewed progress on the Green Infrastructure Project there and plans for community engagement around a memorial plaque for Melba and the installation of security cameras in park areas. The lack of updates on the Community Energy Plan and Micro-Mobility Study was noted, as these were pending the Environmental Commission’s drafting and consultant hiring.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Phillip Kramer
Trails Committee Officials:
David Weaver, Andrew Burian, Jessica Johnston, Anthony J. Ganim, Patrick Shimalla, Robert LaCorte, Dominick Stanzione, William Berz, Glen McParland, Nancy Hohnstine, Carla Visser, Ram Anbarasan (Council Liaison), Vincent Dominach (Staff Contact)

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