CLARION - A proposal to extend a bicycle lane from Veterans Drive onto Sheridan Road in Clarion Borough drew mixed reviews July 24.
Mile Brothers LLC, the owners of the Glass Works business and industry park along Sheridan Road, invited Clarion Borough officials and property owners along the short section of the street to the site to explain the proposal.
Theron Miles, one of the three brothers who own the development company, said Miles Brothers would like to pursue a Greenways Trails Program grant to pay for improvements along Sheridan Road.
Miles said the project would be a benefit to the borough, the property owners along Sheridan Road and to his company, as well.
Mile Brothers recently announced American Precast Industries is constructing a state-of-the-art precast manufacturing facility in the Glass Works Park to produce both Redi-Rock and Pole Base products in Clarion Borough.
The new company will bring 15 new jobs to Clarion by the end of 2020 and could total 25 jobs by the end of its fifth year.
"We're going to be increasing the traffic through here," acknowledged Miles. "The grant we're seeking ($250,000) requires a 15 percent local match," said Miles. "We (Miles Brothers) will put up that 15 percent."
Miles said Sheridan Road will remain off-limits to larger trucks.
Fifteen percent of $250,000 is $37,500, however, Miles later said his company is willing to put $50,000 into the project.
There is no total cost estimate yet developed for the project, but Miles said there would be no cost to the borough unless it wanted to expand the proposed work.
The proposal and the need
Miles said Sheridan Road already sees a fair amount of motor vehicle traffic.
"We'd like to improve the safety of this area," Miles told the gathering of about a dozen people. "Some of the vehicles traveling Sheridan Road drive on the edges of the lawns, they drive in the API business parking lot, there is no safe area for pedestrians and there are issues with water drainage."
Miles said traffic turning onto Sheridan Road from U.S. Route 322 sometimes cuts the corner short and runs through private property.
Miles said his proposal would include the installation of curbs to channel the storm water, better define the road and keep the traffic on the roadway.
Sheridan Road, at its narrowest, is 21-feet, five inches wide.
Miles said the proposed improvements would make the road a uniform 24-feet wide.
Miles stressed that all of the proposed improvements would take place within the borough's right of way and would not involve the taking or alteration of private property.
Also, the plan could include low-level LED lighting.
Miles said that added lighting included for pedestrian and bicyclists' safety -- would not shine onto neighboring private property.
How the bike lane fits in
The only borough-designated bicycle path in town runs along Veterans Drive from Sheridan Road to Grand Avenue on the Clarion University campus.
Veterans Drive was built by the borough about 20 years ago and in part included a right of way granted by Dr. Thomas Miller, who attended the presentation.
Under the Miles Brothers proposal, the bicycle path would be extended from Veterans Drive to U.S. Route 322.
U.S. Route 322, although not marked, is a designed bicycle route across the state.
Miles said ultimately, bicycle paths in the Clarion area could be expanded along Greenville Avenue and Heidrick Street as a route to eventually get to the Clarion County YMCA.
Miles Brothers LLC is seeking a letter of support from Clarion Borough Council to include in a grant application for Greenways Trails Program funds.
Those funds come through Act 13 of 2012, which established the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects.
Organizations eligible for the grants include for-profit businesses, municipalities, councils of governments, institutions of higher learning and watershed organizations.
Miles Brothers also asked that Clarion Borough Council formally approve the extension of the bicycle path to U.S. Route 322.
While Miles said the proposed project would not involve any taking of private property, two property owners along Sheridan Road expressed their concerns.
"I'm not terribly in favor of this," Miller told Miles. "You're wanting to take a limited-access road and dump more traffic on it."
Miller also expressed concern about how the project would affect his access to his garage.
Miller also questioned the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists accessing U.S. Route 322 from Sheridan Road.
U.S. Route 322 through the area just east of the university is a high-volume traffic area with little more than two lanes of width.
"I think you're rushing into this," said Miller.
Joe Billotte, owner of API Autobody Products, said he already has problems with storm water run-off entering his property and he is worried the project would channel more run-off water onto his land.
Up to council
All Clarion Borough Council members and other officials were invited to the 6 p.m. informational meeting.
Council members Carol Lapinto, Rachel Roberts and Zack Garbarino attended along with borough secretary Linda Lavan-Preston and borough treasurer Todd Colosimo.
Lapinto, council president, said she will present the information and requests to the other members of council for their consideration.
Borough council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 4.
Miles said "Now is the time" to apply for the grant.