By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The Slippery Elm Trail is now a little less slippery.
The 13-mile rails to trail that stretches from Bowling Green to North Baltimore has been paved with a new surface product called Onyx. The sealant promises to last longer, seal faster and be less slippery.
“I’ve had nothing but great comments on the Onyx,” Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District, said last week during a meeting of the district board. “Everybody loves it.”
Some of those comments came during the board meeting by park board commissioner Christine Seiler, who had just used the trail that morning.
“The traction was wonderful,” even with all the rain the area had the previous day.
However, Seiler said there appeared to be some areas of the trail where the old pavement seemed to be showing through. Baney said he would check on that.
The Wood County Park District Board paid $119,552 to seal the trail, including striping of the trail at intersections along the route.
According to Ned Fairbanks, the park district maintenance specialist, the product has a proven record of creating a stronger surface that will last longer. The sealing product also remains black since it does not fade in the sun like other sealants used in the past. That will help with melting the snow, since the district does not salt or plow the Slippery Elm Trail.
The Onyx also has a quick setting time, meaning there was less time that the trail was closed to users, Fairbanks said at a previous meeting.
“Within a matter of hours, it’s usable,” he said.
That’s a real plus, said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger.
“As soon as they sealcoat it, we’ve got people chomping at the bit to use it,” he said.
And unlike some other sealants, the Onyx provides a non-slick surface.
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t using something that if someone is rollerblading and it’s wet, that they’re down,” Baney said.
Baney said sealants used in the past on the 12-foot wide trail have lasted about three years. This product should last about nine, he said.
“We’re looking for longevity of the asphalt,” Fairbanks said.
Also at Tuesday’s park board meeting, the board approved a statutory budget for next year. The big items on the budget included $870,000 for capital improvements, and $500,000 for land acquisition.
The largest capital improvement expenses are likely to be renovation of two houses on the Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve. Estimated costs are not yet available for those projects, Munger said.
Board member Bob Dorn voiced some objection to a large amount being spent on the Sawyer site, but board president Denny Parish pointed out that less money is being budgeted for 2018 than for this year. The biggest project this year is the Bradner Preserve, where $338,000 has been spent.
“I think that shows fiscal responsibility on the board’s part,” Parish said.
In other business, the board approved revisions to the North Coast Regional Council of Park Districts bylaws. They organization covers Wood, Sandusky, Erie, Lorain and Medina counties, and works on wetland mitigation projects.
The first wetland mitigation in Wood County through the organization is on the east side of the woods at Reuthinger Memorial Preserve, a part of the county park district. The goal is to create more wetlands in the region by requiring that wetlands being eliminated are re-created elsewhere.
“There’s no question there’s more awareness than there was 20 to 30 years ago,” about the importance of wetlands, Parish said.
“The wetlands are sort of the kidneys of the land,” board member John Calderonello said.
Also at the meeting, Jamie Sands, park district communications specialist and volunteer coordinator, reported that interpretive signs are being created for each county park, describing the flora and fauna at each site. Audio tours are also being worked on. Sands said the park district is also working on oral histories of the Sawyer family to be used in the Sawyer Interpretive Center.