Butler County’s two largest townships are looking into ways they can make their commercial areas more pedestrian friendly.
Trustees from Liberty and West Chester townships met recently to talk about a “walkability” study Liberty Twp. commissioned to see the feasibility of building pedestrian bridges and other amenities so people can walk from places like mega mixed use Liberty Center to Voice of America MetroPark.
Liberty Twp. trustees are hoping their neighbors will want to partner with them on parts of the plan.
Liberty Twp. Trustee Tom Farrell says these modes of transportation are not an amenity, but a necessity to remain competitive.
“People just don’t want to have to get in their cars to go anywhere and do anything,” Farrell said. “We have to recognize this trend and move forward.”
He told the group in order to stay competitive in a market that caters to Millennials they need to provide ways for residents and employees to get around on foot.
“The fact is Millennials and Baby Boomers alike want these walkable communities and they are moving toward it,” Farrell said. “If we don’t create that we’re going to lose residents, employers, employees. But because of our uniqueness I think we have an opportunity to be the poster child for this walkable community because we have assets that most communities don’t have.”
West Chester Trustee George Lang’s initial reaction was not favorable.
“I don’t agree with the assertion this is a necessity for us for the future,” Lang said. “I think it would be a nice amenity… I’m very leery of it as a project of this enormity, maybe if you wanted to pick one little spot and experiment with it and see what happens. I think our taxpayers and our businesses would object to this.”
The two most expensive options are to construct a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 75 from Liberty Center to Cox Road and another bridge from Yankee Road to Liberty Center, over Ohio 129. Those two projects would cost more than $3 million each, according to the study.
Most of the plan involves new pathways and connecting broken sidewalks and generally sprucing up several areas of the township. The price tags on most of those are under $100,000.
Liberty Twp. Trustee Board President Christine Matacic said the question now is should they take this to the next level to see if the private businesses in both townships are willing to partner on funding it.