Connex is once again trying to help the community to be able to move in ways other than a motor vehicle.
This time, the organization is starting the year out by having a public meeting Jan. 22, 2020, as they host their annual meeting with special guest speaker Stephanie Gilbert from the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC). Gilbert will unveil the newly developed Active Transportation Master Plan. This Master plan will showcase recommendations for bike lanes, shared-use paths and walking/hiking trails in Scioto County.
The meeting will be held Jan. 22, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the SOMC Friends Center. The Connex is always looking for and welcoming new members to become part of the Connex team. Dues are $15.00 for the entire year and membership dues can be paid anytime now through February and a member receives all the communication for Connex and votes for board members and Connex goals and what they do each year.
The meeting is open to the public, and they just want people to join and make Connex bigger and join in their endeavors to help with the goal of movement without a motor vehicle in the community.
Stephanie Gilbert is the Transportation Planning Coordinator for Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission. Established in 1967, OVRDC serves as a Local Development District for the Appalachian Regional Commission, an Economic Development District for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, and a Regional Transportation Planning Organization for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
As for understanding what the active transportation plan is, Wendi Waugh, Connex President, said, “It is a plan for Scioto County to move anyway other than with a motor vehicle. This will be recommendations from experts who have looked at lighting and sidewalks or safe routes for children who are walking to school. They have looked at where people are biking or moving that may need ‘share the road’ signs and potential for recreational trail development, they will be making those recommendations.”
Waugh continued, “The city and county will be given this active transportation plan that was paid for by the State of Ohio and it will make us more grant eligible for both state and federal funding to help build, let’s say, safe routes to school. There is a particular grant application for safe routes to school. Now that we have formal recommendations on infrastructure development that we need, we’re more likely to get those grants.”
Waugh stressed, “It is very important, but it will take city government, county government, the County Engineer and several stakeholders working together to take portions, even schools, of this active transportation plan and apply to take on these projects.” She said she would like to generate a call to action get everybody to understand what an active transportation plan is and get everybody to take a look at what should be some of the first steps to take trying to apply for some of this funding and some of these actions to take.
Connex, Waugh says, they lobby for continued infrastructure development for active transportation. “We consult and lobby with city and county government to build. We would help with writing applications and or potentially fundraising, grant matching, all of that kind of stuff, but we do not do it ourselves.” We are always lobbying for increased infrastructure, increased signage, safety in ways that people can move other than motor vehicles. It helps with parking, it helps with tourism, it helps with economic development, so there are many many reasons that we want to continue that infrastructure and that tourism to Portsmouth.”
She says that some of Connex’s plans for 2020 will be lobbying for the active transportation plan. “We’ve also been involved in the Ohio River Recreation Trail Development and there will be a representative at this meeting, who is also going to be talking to people about the river recreation trail and how he wants to make Portsmouth a destination stop, where people who are traveling down the river be it kayak or canoes to stop in Portsmouth and see our town. We are going to be collaborating with them.”
Waugh added, “We have been partnering with the Scioto County Health Coalition and they are helping Connex with funding to purchase an inventory of bikes and so Connex will be working on some Safety Town and we will have bikes for people to share and borrow, especially for children to learn how to ride a bike, and use helmets so we will be doing Safety Towns throughout 2020.”
On Connex Facebook page, there is also an online store that is selling Connex jerseys for anyone who wants to purchase them. Connex does not make any money from them, but if someone would like to have one they can now order one to help spread the word.
Connex is a nonprofit group dedicated to the development of activity routes throughout Portsmouth and the surrounding community. The group’s mission, to inspire activities of play, exercise, and social connections to promote health and wellness. If interested, or if you want more information, visit the Connex Facebook page.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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