Thanks to several local residents, patrons of the bicycle-walking path on State Route 21 north will have a safe area in which to park their vehicles.

Two of the residents, Bill and Debbie Lawrence, owners of property near the bicycle-walking trail, also own most of the parking area. The remainder of the parking area is part of a right-away that is owned by the village.

The Lawrences were in attendance at the Newcomerstown Village Council meeting Nov. 2 to inform the public that the parking lot is now open and ready to be utilized by patrons that are visiting the trail.

The Lawrences and the village are in the process of completing an agreement that will allow the village to have continued access to the site, as well as provide any upgrading that is necessary or desired. The Lawrences will also have accessibility and authorization to upgrade the site as they also desire.

"It is basically an agreement between us and the village for the next five years, then, if after five years, the village wishes to do something different with their share of the site then it will be an option," Bill Lawrence said.

He hopes the area will remain as parking for the trail. He said he and his wife are planning to also install a bicycle rack and possibly a picnic table. The trail currently has a rest site with picnic tables, located about midway between the south and north ends of the trail.

Bill Lawrence said the new parking area would not have been possible without the help of others, namely, Jimmy Lawrence, Bill Wise, Dave Gump, J.R. Simmons, Tom Larkin and Larkin Contracting Co. of New Philadelphia.

He said the area had previously been a five-by-five foot ditch, with no room for vehicles to safely park off the road. The new parking area now measures 120-by-150 feet and will accommodate up to 10 vehicles.

"We just wanted to give the community someplace safe to park and also have less potential of any traffic hazards at the site," Bill Lawrence said.

Newcomerstown Mayor Steve Guy also commended the Lawrences for offering their property and being instrumental in making the project possible.

"The village truly owes them (all individuals that were involved) a debt of gratitude for this project. It is something that will be very beneficial for the community," Guy said.