Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Trail plan questioned

Too near youth center, Warren officials told

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Officials raised concerns Tuesday about Lebanon's plan to build a bike trail within a dozen feet of Warren County's center for young offenders.

        “At night you're going to be able to look right in” to the girls' wing of Mary Haven Youth Center, superintendent Kevin Kincer told county commissioners Tuesday.

        Commissioners, however, said previous juvenile center administrators signed off on the bike trail plan and it's too late to change it.

        Lebanon Planning Director Marty Kohler said later that the trail was designed before Mary Haven was built on the Ohio 48 Bypass.

        Lebanon's 7.9-mile connection to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, in the works for about a decade, will be built in 2003, Mr. Kohler said.

        It will run from the train station on South Street, east past Harmon Park, to the bypass.

        The connector will go south alongside 48 and Deerfield Road, past the Countryside YMCA and across Interstate 71, meeting up with the Little Miami trail between South Lebanon and Kings Mills.

        Mary Haven is on Ohio 48.

        The center, which holds teens with drug and alcohol problems and sex offenses, is surrounded by a 12-foot-high chain-link fence, Mr. Kincer said.

        However, he is concerned that people on the trail, to be built 11 feet from the fence, will not only be able to see but also to pass contraband such as drugs over and through the fence.

        Bike rider Bob Duncan, owner of Wheelie Fun Multi-Sport in Lebanon, said he thinks the trail could motivate offenders.

        “I know if I was locked up and I saw people riding by on bikes, I'd really want to do good so I could get out,” he said.

        Mary Haven's proximity to the trail shouldn't be a problem for cyclists, Mr. Duncan said, as long as security is good.

        Commissioner Mike Kilburn suggested window treatments that would prevent outsiders seeing in while allowing those indoors to see out.

        The fence also can be upgraded, commissioners said.


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