The DuBois family, known at Miami, the University of Cincinnati and Kent State for their DuBois book stores, donated $500,000 to the Oxford Community Foundation for the Oxford Trails project.
Their donation is the first major local contribution, matching one of the two OKI (Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana) Trail Association funding grants approved in 2018. The $15 million, 12-mile trails project will be funded through a local levy as well as federal and state grants, some of which must be matched with local funds.
The grant was announced on Feb. 11 by Jessica Greene, director of Enjoy Oxford, which handles publicity for the project. According to the announcement, the money will create the Howard and Gwyn DuBois Family Fund with the Oxford Community Foundation. The funds will be directed toward the trails project.
The DuBoises are avid cyclists, and Howard DuBois has taken daily rides around Oxford, Hueston Woods and the surrounding countryside for most of his life, according to Greene’s announcement. DuBois loves cycling with his children and grandchildren and has participated in more than 100 cycling tours, including riding from coast to coast and from Maine to Florida. The family’s love of cycling prompted them to donate to the trails project, Greene said.
The trail will eventually loop all the way around Oxford, with several side trails going off on tangents. The project is expected to take about 10 years to complete.
Construction on the east side of the loop trail, which will run through Miami’s Western campus and connect SR 73 to US 27 in Peffer Park, is expected to start this spring. The addition will attach to the current segments of the trail to the north, with a trailhead at Bonham Road.
The new trails will grant students easy walking and biking access to Peffer Park, as well as to the north side of campus along with a more scenic route.
Plans for the trails project have been in the works since the early 2000s. Construction of the initial segment, the Black Bridge Connector, was finished in 2017. The Black Bridge Connector runs from Kelly Drive to Bonham Road, along with the north side of town and through the black covered bridge.
In January, the trail tax levy receipts began coming in. City council member David Prytherch said the levy passed last year because of people’s support for green space in Oxford.
“For us, that first (OKI) grant was just so critical because it showed people ‘wow, this is what it will look like.’ People had some test of concept,” Prytherch said. “It was a democratic debate about people raising taxes on themselves.”
Since the completion of the Black Bridge Connector, those working on the project have outlined the remainder of the proposed loop. Enjoy Oxford, and other proponents of the project have been working on drafts for different segments of the trail, including sections that would stretch from Peffer Park to the Oxford Community Park at 6801 Fairfield Road.
Beyond recreation, the trails will connect the community, allowing residents to walk or bike to businesses, restaurants and recreation sites such as the new community aquatic center in Oxford Community Park.
Doug Hamilton, the owner of the uptown bike shop, BikeWise, sees the trails as a great addition to Oxford.
“I’m in support of any mixed-use trails,” he said. “I’m all for it.”
Oxford Area Trails received a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund towards building another portion of the trail that will connect Talawanda Middle School and the Oxford Community Park, with funds for the project being received in 2022. This portion will help complete the northern section of the loop, connecting more of the community to the rest of the paved trail.