NEGLEY - A small access road into Beaver Creek State Park that was closed in July remains closed, and exactly when it will be open again is uncertain.
Middleton Township trustees said this week the chip and sealing on the road by the county will not happen this year since it was not done before the cold, rainy weather set in.
The board submitted the road to the county's annual chip and seal program and planned to pay for it through some funding received from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The funding would have covered one layer of the road material, with the second layer paid for by the township.
Trustees have said two layers are needed on six-tenths of a mile of the road.
The township owns the narrow, steep and winding half-mile of road that serves as a northern entrance into the park and is responsible for its maintenance. The road is bordered by a steep hillside on one side and a deep ravine on the other and has slowly eroded over time due to lack of proper drainage.
The county was holding off on chip and sealing the road while the township's road crew was addressing the drainage problems, and then it was too late because of the rain, the board said.
They were hoping to have the chip and seal done so the road could be used again, but now that the road surfacing has been pushed to next year's program whether it will be reopened is still undecided.
Trustees said the county highway department has agreed to lend the local road crew its steel drum vibrating roller to use on the road and that may alleviate some of the problems there.
Board Chairman Eldena Gearhart said the crew will use the roller as soon as it is made available.
"We will wait until we try to roll it before we make a determination" on reopening, she added.
The board did agree to closing the road temporarily in July while awaiting the necessary improvements, but a decision has not been made to close the road permanently.
Talk of closing the road permanently began among board members last summer because they believed the road was becoming too dangerous for travel and the township didn't have enough money to make the necessary repairs.
Following that discussion the Ohio Department of Transportation donated some asphalt grindings which the road crew put down, and the ODNR agreed to pay for the one layer of chip and seal.
The county engineer's office also pitched in and furnished three new culvert pipes and a new catch basin. Two other culvert pipes were provided by the ODNR and township.
The pipes and material have been installed.
County Engineer Bert Dawson said last year when trustees were considering the closure he believed doing so would be a detriment to the park.
Trustees moved away from a permanent closure once the state and county offices got involved with making repairs, along with the township.
Trustee Timothy Pancake said aside from residents Jack and Marlene Shaffer, the board has not received any complaints about the road's closure for the time being.
The Shaffers attended this week's meeting to express their concerns and Mrs. Shaffer accused Gearhart of already having made the decision.
Gearhart said she does not have the power to close the road on her own and reiterated the board has not decided on a closure at this point.
"There has been no decision on closure of the road," she said after the Shaffers left the meeting.