Grant Funding Eyed For Master Bikeways Plan

BERLIN – A master plan for bikeways and greenways could help Worcester County secure additional grant funding for trail development.

The Worcester County Commissioners last month approved plans for the Worcester County Office of Tourism and Economic Development to manage funding targeted toward trails and greenways. Officials plan to use the funding to hire a consultant to help with a bikeways and greenways master plan.

“To go for additional grant funding for engineering and construction we really do need to have a master plan, which we don’t have,” said Melanie Pursel, the county’s director of tourism and economic development.

According to Pursel, as part of the Tri- County Council Rural Maryland grant funding Worcester County received, $100,000 was approved for trail development. Though that grant funding was initially going to be managed by a local nonprofit, Pursel said staff had determined it would be better for the county to manage the funds in-house. She said that because the municipalities were in various states of bikeways development it would be easier for Worcester County to handle the project. She said her office would work in coordination with other relevant departments such as development review and permitting, environmental programs and parks and recreation.

“The goal is to simplify the scope of work and to engage with a professional consultant to study existing bikeways, greenways/walkways throughout the county and make recommendations for connections at various points throughout the county,” she wrote in a memo to the commissioners.”

The end result will be a comprehensive bikeways plan for the county.

“This plan will also help in attaining additional grant monies for engineering and construction moving forward,” Pursel wrote.

She added that if the plan cost less than the $100,000 grant amount, any leftover funds would be reallocated to the existing county projects approved through the Rural Maryland program.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve Pursel’s request for her office to spearhead the project. Commissioner Joe Mitrecic agreed a master plan could lead to more financial support from the state.

“Considering the governor’s new push for this I think we can certainly count on more grant funding and handle this in house,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.