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Biking Bonanza: Central Ohio hopes to roll out new trail systems

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Biking the Olentangy Trail is a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts around Central Ohio, especially when the leaves turn lush and green and the sunshine warms the surrounding parks. Beyond that, though, the trail connecting Worthington to Clintonville to Ohio State is a vital pathway for folks looking for alternative commuting options for their daily treks downtown.

A few miles to the east runs the Alum Creek Trail, connecting Westerville, Easton and Bexley. The two trails run parallel to one another, but the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and Central Ohio Greenways (COG) hope that in a few years, the two will become connected through an additional path.

The change would be part of an effort to expand Central Ohio’s trail system, adding 500 new miles of pathways to the over 230 that already exist throughout Franklin County and the surrounding seven counties.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

The vision was developed by COG, a collaborative group including local governments and private and nonprofit partners that wanted to create a cohesive trail system, says COG coordinator Melinda Vonstein.

“What’s really exciting is that these new trail connections will fill in gaps in our trail corridors that largely run along river corridors, and they’ll also connect neighborhoods to jobs,” Vonstein said.

Vonstein says the number of miles traveled along the Central Ohio trail system has increased every year since 2014, reaching 11.5 million miles in 2017. On top of that, the region is growing in population, and congestion in the city is getting worse. 

The combination of these factors, Vonstein says, will increase the demand for a more accessible trail system, and one of the existing limitations the expansion is hoping to address is the lack of east to west trails.

“Initially about 10 years ago, trails started to be built in our region as an effort to protect our waterways, so many of the trails that exist run along our north valley corridors,” Vonstein said. “What we’re trying to do is create some connections, some east-west connections, to create a truly interconnected network of trails.”

Within the city, these proposed connections include paths connecting the Olentangy to the Scioto Trail along 161 and through the OSU campus. But the expansion would move outward, too, connecting Lancaster, Johnstown, Delaware, Marysville, and Circleville.  

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Vonstein says the trails throughout Central Ohio are meant to provide a safe, low-stress transportation option for people ages eight to 80. She’s most excited about connecting historically underserved people in this regard with access to trails, and she says the COG is working with other groups “to create a transportation system that works from neighborhood to town centers.”

Aside from providing more accessible transportation, however, the expanded trails will also give folks using the paths a chance to experience a wider range of the area’s urban, suburban, and natural environments.  

“We really see these trails as linear parks that are a way to not only connect people to mobility options, but also as a way to connect with nature,” Vonstein said. “We’re really excited that this trail vision allows us to connect to a lot of natural places and gives us the opportunity to just experience the nature and really amazing spaces that Central Ohio has on a more human scale outside of the car.”

The vision to add 500 miles of trails is ambitious, though, and will likely carry a hefty price tag. Vonstein says the project is expected to cost at least $250 million, and the timeline for development is dependent on finding funding sources. Still, she says a study COG funded last year indicated regional leaders see access to trails as a driver for economic development, better health outcomes, and improved quality of life.

The group’s next steps will be to conduct another study this year focused on how trail use supports economic development, social equity and the environment, which Vonstein hopes will help with grant funding.

“We, our community leaders, and our trail advocates in Central Ohio really see the value of trails, so we know that there is an opportunity to find some funding to accelerate the pace of this development,” Vonstein said of the vision. 

The new trails may still be a few years out, but it’s never too late to start exploring the existing paths. COG is also working with Yay Bikes!, a local bike advocacy group, to help educate people on safe bicycling habits both on and off pathways. Maybe one day, folks will be able to take what they’ve learned and hop not just from Clintonville to Grandview, but also from the Hilltop to Whitehall.

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9 festivals for you to fall in love with this weekend

Mitch Hooper

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Summer may be rounding out, but there are still so many ways to fest outside. From vintage good fairs to rock climbing at the Scioto Audubon, here are the festivals taking place this weekend in the city.

Sept. 12-15 | Scioto Fest | Scioto Audubon Metro Park

This four-day festival is for those with an affinity for the outdoors. Here, adrenaline junkies will find rock climbing and bouldering while land lovers can enjoy camping, music, and all the food offerings.

Sept. 12-14 | Creative Control Fest 8 | Lincoln Theatre

In its eighth year, the Creative Control Fest is back to raise up and celebrate creatives of color from around the midwest. Hang out and learn useful information at one of the many workshops, or get your mind right at one of the wellness activities designed for creatives from a variety of different industries.

Sept. 13-14 | 934 Fest 2019 | 934 Gallery

In a celebration of the art scene here in Columbus, 934 Gallery is opening its doors for two-days this weekend featuring art from Lucie Shearer and Andy Meyer. Additionally, the festival will play host to two music stages, a comedy stage, local artist vendors, food trucks, craft beer, and plenty of activities for your young Picasso.

Sept. 13-15 | Country Living Fair | Ohio Historical Village

Calling all flea market fans and garage sale experts, this is your chance to splurge! This three-day fair offers more than 200 vendors from across different states selling vintage and handcrafted goods as well as antiques. Stop by one of the how-to sessions, or simply fill up your Pinterest mood board with loads of ideas.

Sept. 13-14 | Columbus Caribbean Festival | The Scioto Mile

In its third year, the Columbus Caribbean Festival has returned to The Scioto Mile for two days of live music, delicious island-inspired food and drinks including Taste Of Kingston and The Gumbo Dude Food Truck, and a parade. The music lineup includes Pete Funk, BAND AMANIAUZURI, and The Flex Crew.

Sept. 13-15 | 2019 Grandview Oktoberfest | Hofbrauhaus Columbus (Grandview)

Another weekend in September, another chance to celebrate the German Oktoberfest! This time around it's at Hofbrauhaus where live entertainment will clash with German food and bier as well as activities for little ones. Friday will feature WCOL-FM from 6pm- 8pm, while Saturday will host a face painter and balloon artists from 2pm- 6pm. And if you couldn't make it to the face painter on Saturday, they will return on Sunday from 1pm- 4pm in addition to a magician.

Sept. 14 | Crafted Food, Beer & Music Festival | Columbus Commons

From farm-to-table-to-festival, the Crafted Food, Beer & Music Festival brings nine different Columbus restaurants together to showcase their offerings. For $15, you can enjoy live music from George Barrie Band and The Floorwalkers, stuff your face, and know that you're doing some civic good as a portion of proceeds will benefit Freedom a la Cart, an organization providing paid workforce training and supportive services to survivors of human trafficking.

Sept. 14 | Oktoberfest Party | Wolf's Ridge Brewing

Wolf's Ridge is getting in on the Oktoberfest action and on Saturday you can find brats, spaetzle, and of course, WRB's very own Oktoberfest bier. If you really want to feel the Oktoberfest vibes, purchase a $14 stein and hoist it high!

Sept. 14 | Old Hilliardfest | Main St. in Old Hilliard

This street fair takes place in Old Hilliard where visitors can explore car shows and sunflower shows as well as all the fixings of most festivals: live music, food, and activities for kids at the kid's fair. Support local, and have fun while doing so!

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Let’s play FREE ball! Clippers weekend win means more dime-a-dogs

Mike Thomas

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Over the weekend, our Columbus Clippers topped the Gwinnett Stripers to clinch the series, earning them a spot in the Governors' Cup Finals!

Games 1 and 2 of the Governors' Cup Finals best-of-5 series against the Durham Bulls will be played at Huntington Park on September 10 and September 11. Both games will start at 6:35pm, gates open at 5:30pm.

As if that weren't enough to entice you, all games in the first round will be dime-a-dog! 

Tickets for Games 1 and 2 are FREE! They will be available beginning Monday at 10am via Ticketmaster (no fees!), by calling 614-462-2757, or by stopping by either our Administrative Offices from 10am-4pm or the CF Box Office on the corner of Neil and Nationwide from 10am-2pm.

Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a limit of four per order. For more information including the complete playoff schedule, click here.

https://twitter.com/CLBClippers/status/1170728807940186113
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Amazon Treasure Truck returns to Columbus this weekend with exclusive deals

Mike Thomas

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Whether you missed out on the Prime Day deals, or simply want to keep the savings rolling, Amazon is offering a unique new way to score deals in Columbus. This weekend, the juggernaut of online retail is once again bringing its Treasure Truck to the 614.

The concept is simple: Customers can sign-up for text message alerts revealing the day’s treasure, which could range from trending tech and the latest gear to seasonally relevant products. Sign up for text message notifications by texting “truck” to 24193.

After customers place their order on Amazon, they then select a convenient pickup location and time slot to get their item. In addition to the iconic trucks, customers can pick up their treasure at newly-launched vans, as well as kiosks located in select Amazon Books, Amazon Go, Whole Foods Market stores, and more.

To learn more and to sign up for alerts, click here, or sign up for text message notifications by texting “truck” to 24193. Don't sleep on these deals—the Treasure Truck will be rolling on to the next locale before you know it!

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