MOUNT VERNON — Over the past four years, a plan to connect the Heart of Ohio Trail with the Kokosing Gap Trail has slowly inched forward. On Monday night, city council members gave the go-ahead for the city to bid and contract for construction of the connector trail.
On the west end, the 10-foot-wide connector trail ties into the Heart of Ohio Trail at the railroad tracks near the CA&C depot. It will travel north around the Dan Emmett House, along the river and under the viaduct and pedestrian bridge. On the east end, it ties into the Kokosing Gap Trail near the wood bridge just past the back of the building housing Whit's Frozen Custard.
A Transportation Alternatives Program grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation will cover most of the $659,000 cost. The city's share is 5%, or $37,000. City Engineer Brian Ball is requesting $50,000 in the 2020 budget as ODOT projects frequently cost more than anticipated.
Ball estimates that flooding might close the trail about 10 days a year. The current grade crossing across South Main Street will be maintained for access when high water makes the connector trail impassable.
The city will bid the project immediately since all of the design work is complete and all required permits obtained.
Council members also voted to donate a high-mileage, high-hour medic to the Knox County Career Center. Lt. Josh Lester, EMS coordinator training officer for the Mount Vernon Fire Department, said the vehicle needs chassis work, a possible frame, and other maintenance.
“Third parties won't even buy it,” he told council.
Students in the Knox Technical Center's Public Safety Program will use the medic to get a feel for working in the confines of an actual ambulance.
In other business, council:
- Approved the rezoning of 1120 Yauger Road from residential to office-institutional
- Approved naming a land parcel on the corner of Marion and Madison streets Shellmar Park
- Approved the reappointment of Scott Brenneman to the city's recreation board, Gail Labenne to the Historical Review Commission, and Bev Hamilton to the Metropolitan Housing Authority
- Postponed until Dec. 9 the third reading of legislation extending a water line to Ariel-Foundation Park
- Adopted changes to the solid waste haulers ordinance. The primary change requires haulers to pick up material at least once a week.
- Approved an easement to 401 E. Vine St. because the house sits .7 feet into the city's right of way
- Authorized the safety-service director to buy two new police SUVs
- Gave a first reading to amend the city's lease with the Foundation Park Conservancy. There are two primary changes: the city assumes responsibility for paying the electric bill at Ariel-Foundation Park while the conservancy assumes responsibility for mowing everything except the Terraces.
- Gave a first reading to legislation changing the name of the Water and Wastewater Commission to Utilities Commission
Dennis Swingle, Chestnut Street, again addressed council about the traffic on Edgewood Road. Speaking about the “preservation of the public peace, health, and safety” in the east end, Swingle related that he recently sighted a full-size tanker carrying gasoline on Edgewood Road. He also saw a full-size semi transporting tree trunks.
“Semi-trucks using the whole east end as a thoroughfare is causing a dangerous situation for the peace of mind and safety of the residents and children,” he said.
He also noted that previous studies reported 466 cars traveling between 40 and 69 mph in a 25 mph zone.
“What if this gasoline hauler wound up in front of one of those speeding vehicles?” he asked. “What a catastrophe would have occurred at the intersection of East Chestnut and North Edgewood.
“So am I wasting my time pointing out such a critical situation that threatens life and limb of the residents of the city that this administration represents, or will the administration act before something catastrophic occurs?”