Carroll County planning staff are seeking public input to create better paths for bicyclists and pedestrians who traverse the area.
The Carroll County Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan has been in the works for about four years and strives to unite bike-pedestrian projects across the county, according to Clare Stewart, the main planner on the master plan.
To gain public input on the plan, planning staff have offered informational forums at the Mount Airy library and during National Night Out at the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company. The last forums are planned for Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the Westminster public library.
“Throughout the whole process we’ve actually been really trying to get as much input as we can," Stewart said in an interview.
Staff hope to see locals at 50 E. Main St. in Westminster from 2 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.
One of the main goals of the plan is to bring together existing bike-pedestrian paths that were built separately, according to Stewart.
“We wanted to take the county plus the municipalities and really work with them and see if we create a countywide network," Stewart said.
That might take shape through adding signs, repainting lines, building new paths or connecting existing ones, Stewart suggested.
In the early stages of the plan in 2016, a 50-question survey was sent out to residents, Stewart said. They received about 900 responses, and Stewart is hoping for more input through the public forums.
No one turned up for the Mount Airy meetings, but many people came up to the booth at National Night Out in Hampstead, Stewart said. She heard Hampstead residents say they’d like to see more infrastructure for biking and safety improvements.
“We do get a lot of concerns about safety,” Stewart said.
In general, Stewart said, she has heard “very positive” reactions from citizens who want to see the plan come to fruition.
“We have input from citizens, but the more the better. We want to know where are your trouble spots for getting around and how can we help you more easily travel to your destination," Stewart said.
In a perfect scenario, the master plan would be executed so people could use the paths as transportation to everyday activities, in addition to exercise and leisure, Stewart said.
“I could see it as a transportation network that facilitates all sorts of modes of transportation," she said.
Carroll County Breaking News
The county Planning and Zoning Commission accepted the Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan on May 29, which kick-started the public review process it is undergoing currently, according to Stewart. The commission has yet to approve the plan.
The planning commission will hold a public hearing Sept. 17 at 9 a.m. in the Reagan Room (Room 003) of the county office building to accept public comment on the master plan, according to Stewart. After the hearing, the commission will vote on whether to approve the plan and, if approved, it will go to the Board of Commissioners for potential adoption, Stewart said.
What trails are actually developed will depend on funding and grants, according to Stewart. She hopes they will be able to develop an interactive map for the county’s website, which would show where biking and pedestrian paths are located. Other possibilities include creating a map for tourists and launching a safety campaign, Stewart said.
The cost to develop the master plan was partially funded by a $60,000 grant from the Unified Planning Work Program, which includes a $12,000 match done through in-kind staff work, according to Stewart.
“We do not know the total cost at this time as we have had a number of staff at various levels working on the plan,” Stewart wrote in an email, in reference to the cost of developing the master plan.
The cost of implementing the master plan has yet to be determined and will depend on which parts of the plan are chosen to be executed, Stewart said.
Those who want to provide input but cannot attend the meetings can call the planning office at 410-386-5145 or visit carrollbikepedplan.org, click on the “Get Connected” tab, and send a message or subscribe to the mailing list. The 263-page plan can also be viewed online at that website.