Thu., 8:43am: Cash from shale company to extend Greenway bike trail

LISBON – NiSource Inc., the parent company of Columbia Gas, recently donated $50,000 to the Friends of the Park to help get the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail closer to the Mahoning County line.

Friends of the Park is a volunteer organization that hosts fundraisers and provides other assistance for the Columbiana County Park District, which is responsible for the Greenway Trail.

The park district has been in the process of extending the trail from its Leetonia terminus to Washingtonville, using federal and state funding acquired to pay for the $460,000 project, which follows the abandoned former Erie & Lackawanna Railway bed from Lisbon.

Park Board President Dottie Betz said they were able to extend the trail to Bertolette Alley in Washingtonville but were still short of state Route 14, which is the dividing line between Columbiana and Mahoning counties. It has been the park district’s goal to get the trail to the county line, where the plan is for it to eventually link up with the Mahoning County Metroparks bicycle trail when it is extended.

The $50,000 from NiSource enabled the park district to blacktop another 1,000 feet of rail bed, extending the trail to within a block of Route 14. “By the time you count the portion of the trail that goes through the village of Leetonia, it’s now 12-1/2 miles long,” Betz said of the Greenway Trail.

The grant was through the NiSource Charitable Foundation, which alerted the park district about the grant program. “We didn’t know about it until they contacted us,” Betz said.

The park district is scheduled to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new trail section at 1 p.m. May 29.

With this project behind it, the park district is now turning its attention to adding a spur to the Greenway Trail that would connect Lisbon to the Days Inn located outside of town at the intersection of state Route 154 and Route 11, according to board member Mike West.