YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A movement began in downtown Youngstown on Friday evening to connect a bike trail from Lowellville to Ravenna as part of a bigger trail in the Eastern United States.
YSU graduate student Jacob Harver is the driving force behind the project, created as part of his history master’s degree.
He wants to build a trail from the Stavich Trail in Lowellville to the Portage County Bike and Hike Trail in Ravenna.
It would connect a set of trails starting in Washington, D.C. and ending in Cincinnati. Harver was inspired to highlight Youngstown on that path.
“Throughout history, the Mahoning River has been the central part of our valley, and active transportation trails are probably the best way to experience it,” Harver said.
He said building the trail will be quite a task, but recent infrastructure bills in Congress could help the process.
“It’s probably going to take a while because of obviously all the bureaucracy, land acquisition and whatnot. Luckily, East Gateway council of government is more than poised to tackle that side of things,” Harver said.
Many people, including the Mahoning Movement, believe this trail will have multiple benefits, including getting people active and teaching people about local history.
“I believe that it will provide access and green space for people to get more activity. That’s definitely something that in public health, we are always looking at,” said Mercy Health community educator Jessica Romeo.
This was the first time Harver pitched his idea to the public. His next task is to get public officials and others on board.
“I think it’s a way to counteract the sense that this area, that the story, basically, is one of failure. People came from different parts of the united States, and in fact different parts of the world, to settle here. To me, that’s a story that has plusses,” said YSU professor Tom Leary.