Two recent meetings—one in Talbot and one in Kent County—have amplified a continued interest in creating a network Rail/Trail bike paths that would interconnect all of the Eastern Shore. The plans are serious, long term and the benefits are substantial.
The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and local Kent County group, the Kent Safe Cycling Alliance (name pending) have recently stepped up to host planning meetings to consider routes, safety issues, relationships with established parks, the inclusion of historical points of interests, and to coordinate with each town and county.
In April, ESLC in Easton met with county staff, elected officials, and trail advocates and experts to form a vision of a regional trails network by studying other rail-trail systems like Capital Trails Coalition, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Great Allegheny Passage, the Virginia Creeper.
Director of Land Use and Policy Director Owen Bailey points out that the free trails offer equitable access to the outdoors for recreation and exercise, and “The economic benefits that trails add have been well documented in examples like Northwest Arkansas that received $137 million in benefits to their local economy in 2017.”
In Kent County, Chestertown Recreation Commission Director Jim Bogden hosted a public meeting on August 9 to plan for the extension of the Wayne Gilchrest Rail Trail to Worton and to coordinate with ESLC’s overall plan for a regional trail network. County commissioner candidate Ted Gallo, town councilman and county commission candidate Tom Herz, and Kent County Economic Development Director Jaimie Williams attended the meeting.
“We had a very rich and productive meeting,” Bogden says. “It’s a complex issue that included discussions about crime and safety, landowner and homeowner opposition, and funding possibilities with the new infrastructure bill. It won’t be easy, but we’re getting a lot of positive feedback from the community.”
The Spy recently interviewed ESLC’s Owen Bailey to overview this project.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more about Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, go here or contact Owen Bailey at OBailey@eslc.org. For more information about the Wayne Gilchrest Rail Trail, see their Facebook page here.