Biller's Bikes gets hundreds of calls every year, asking: Where is the bike trail? We've been asked this question a thousand times since we started business in 2006. It's been very hard to give a good answer. They want to drive their families here from Baltimore and Philadelphia, ride bikes and hike all day, stay in our bed and breakfasts, and dine at our restaurants.
We tell the callers about about our five-miles of quaint alley-lanes, our little North Park "Joe K" Trail, and the magnificent Susquehanna State Park (SSP) up the highway. We tell them about the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway (LSHG) trail at the park's northern tip. But the fact remains, there is no Havre de Grace-to-Conowingo bike trail.
The Joe K trail takes us now to the foot of the Vulcan Quarry. The good people we've met at the quarry are already hard at work building a bike-hike trail on its property for public use. It will take you up to the quarry's heights via a switchback at the North Park, pass along the quarry's western inside perimeter, up the existing work road, and allow for a 360- degree panoramic view at its 70-foot crest picnic grounds. Cyclists and hikers will exit the quarry near SSP and travel the scenic Stafford Road to the LSHG trail and on to its dramatic end at the Conowingo Dam. Cost to Havre de Grace, nothing but a "thank you".
With the mayor's political will, the Vulcan Quarry will be able to clear the jurisdictional maze and spend its earmarked million dollars to use its stone, heavy tools and talented people to build the trail within its property. Havre de Grace, in return, will benefit from hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel revenue. And we'll quit losing money to Baltimore County and the NCR/Torey Brown Trail.
This HdG-to-Conowingo bike/hike trail and its tourism activity and revenue will bring opportunity and jobs to the City. Trails make money. It's not a theory; it's been proven hundreds of times everywhere a substantial bike/hike trail has been built. We are lucky for what we've got and it's time we took advantage of all these God-given natural gifts and got the job done.
Mitch Shank has promised to support the development and expansion of bike and hike trails. He will take the lead. As Mayor, Shank will coordinate the work of Mary Ann Lisanti at the LSHG, the people at Vulcan Quarry, the handful of willing private concerns along the trail, and the holders of critical railroad, freeway and power company right-aways. Mitch will get everybody under the tent and make it happen, now.
The HdG-to Conowingo Dam Trail will have the support of the State of Maryland (which has mandated much of the trail) and the support of HdG's diverse visitor and resident population. Havre de Grace will see new businesses, new homeowners eager to live near such a natural prize, and most importantly, a welcome new source to our tax base.
Vote for Mitch Shank on May 3! Let's blaze that trail!
Walter Biller & Mara Wasilik