A long-planned project to create a “visitor wayside” on Cleveland-Massillon Road in Bath Township has been bolstered by a 2012 National Scenic Byways Program grant of $150,608.
The Heritage Corridors of Bath’s “Ghent Wayside” was one of only two Ohio projects chosen to receive NSBP funding this year from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
According to the NSBP's website, the federal program recognizes roads having outstanding scenic, historic, cultural, natural, recreational and archaeological qualities. NSBP funding supports projects that manage and protect these roads and improve visitor facilities.
The byway connects three 19th century hamlets – Bath Center, Ghent and Hammond's Corners – and passes by numerous historic structures, including early cemeteries and mills.
Elena Goodrich, who has been working with the Heritage Corridors of Bath Committee, applied for the NSBP grant in February and was very pleased to learn the Bath visitor wayside project was chosen for funding.
Eventually the grant – along with $39,000 in township matching funds – will be used to construct a visitor wayside on a 7.5-acre parcel of land at 950 Cleveland-Massillon Road, two parcels north of , right across from Ghent Hills.
Goodrich said preliminary plans call for the wayside to include signage, a gravel driveway, a six-car parking lot, a bike rack, a tank-system restroom, landscaping and a multi-sided information kiosk situated in the center of a six-sided shelter that will contain picnic tables.
A trail loop from the parking area to North Fork Creek, with roadside trail access to Ghent, will also be constructed. Since Park Creek and North Fork Creek join on that parcel, picnic tables might be placed near where the creeks meet.
But first the land has to be purchased – a process that has been ongoing for five years.
Goodrich said the township bought an option to purchase the property in 2007 and is finally getting close to doing so. “We have to have the appraisal done again because the original one is outdated,” she said.
Funding is in place to make the land purchase, thanks to a 2010 Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund grant of $172,531 and a 2011 NSBP grant of $251,556 the township received. Goodrich said the grants can be used as matching funds for each other.
Goodrich said the visitor wayside will bring a focal point to the township.
“It’s in the center of town in Ghent Square, so it kind of makes a dividing line between the residential and commercial areas. It allows for restoration of the area, provides a trailhead stop for bicyclists and is a place where visitors will be able to stop and get information about the township,” she explained.
While the Ohio Department of Transportation is charged with overseeing the project, township trustees will be hiring a consultant to design the visitor wayside. The actual work will be done by township employees and, likely, a construction company hired by the township.