MOUNT VERNON — In its Monday meeting, council heard from community members about the ongoing neighborhood traffic problems stemming from the North Sandusky Street road construction.
Tom Cassell came to council looking for the city's plan to eliminate problems such as semis, trucks, and high-volume vehicle traffic through his neighborhood. He requested such a plan at council's last meeting.
In response to Mayor Matt Starr's previous comment asking drivers to slow down and drive courteously, Cassell said they were not. He said that he recently counted 70 vehicles going through an intersection within 15 minutes.
“Five stopped at the intersection,” he said. “The general motorist doesn't care.”
Kimberly Drive resident Greg Colopy also spoke, saying that the city's inept ability to control traffic has resulted in damage to storm sewer pipes and property.
Referencing an unmanned police car stationed to help deter motorists from disregarding the detour signs, Colopy said, “That's not going to do it. There needs to be more of a police presence.”
Police Chief Richard Morgan said the department has increased patrols, conducted over 40 traffic stops, and issued numerous citations. He said the department will assign some special-duty officers when school starts, noting that the additional coverage will cost the city financially.
Safety-service Director Richard Dzik said there was a plan developed when the project was designed, but it has changed. The city has added signage and increased a police presence, but Dzik noted that autos are allowed on local roads. Trucks, however, are not. They are required to stay on state routes.
“In term of stopping the volume of cars, I'm not sure we can do that,” he said.
Dzik said the city is discussing moving detour signage north of Revere Roofing Company so that trucks can use Revere's drive as a turnaround. The project is through the Ohio Department of Transportation, so ODOT has to approve all changes.
In its legislative session, council members gave the okay for the city to bid and contract for the Clintonville sanitary storm water and sewer project. Clintonville is the area on the city's north side that includes Fern, Grange, and Pearl avenues.
Replacement lines are needed to help eliminate constant sanitary sewer overflow at the Clintonville lift station. Storm water is discharged into the sanitary sewer system and causes the sewer to back up.
“This project has been ignored year after year,” City Engineer Brian Ball told council.
A 2001 study by Floyd Browne Associates showed high groundwater in the area and 44 major defects in the pipes. A 2019 mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency requires the city to eliminate sanitary sewer overflow at the lift station by 2023.
Emily McKinley, EM Consulting Services, outlined the project's scope and estimated costs. The plan is to install new sanitary sewer lines and transition the existing lines into stormwater lines.
Phase 1 includes sanitary and stormwater work in the back yards of the homes on Fern Avenue. The estimated cost if $154,000.
Phase 2 includes sanitary and stormwater work in the back yards of the homes on Grange Avenue at an estimated cost of $505,000.
“There will be a monitoring phase afterward to make sure we are maintaining the compliance for this area,” McKinley said.
Council's approval was for Phases 1 and 2. Phase 3 is road work on Fern and Grange avenues (estimated $413,000), and Phase 4 (Mansfield Avenue Northridge to Grange) and Phase 5 Fern, Grange, and Pearl) will be water line work and street resurfacing.
“This will be a door-to-door project to make sure the right pipe is getting hooked to the right system,” Ball said.
Ball said he hopes to have Phases 3 and 4 ready to bid in nine months with a goal of construction starting mid summer 2022.
Under the EPA mandate, the city must report the status of the project each year on Sept. 1.
“Last year we said it was in design,” Ball told council. “A year later and we tell them we're still in design, that's a problem.”
The city holds no easements in the planned work area, although it does have eminent domain. Homeowners will have to move sheds, shrubs, and other items off of the line. Ball said that if homeowners have heirloom plants, the city will make sure that the contractor gets a certified arborist to consult on the project.
The contractor will also attend public meetings to inform the community about the projects. Homeowners can contact the contractor directly if problems arise, eliminating the city as a middle-man.
Ball said city officials have talked a lot with homeowners multiple times about the project.
Ball plans to bid Phase 1 and 2 within 21 days. The Sept. 1 letter to the EPA will state the project is in the construction phase. He anticipates to start work in September, pending no problems getting materials and supplies.
“The city has adequate resources to make this work,” Auditor Terry Scott said.
Council took the following additional actions:
•Heard about PAK (Police and Kids) United from Chief Morgan
•Authorized the city to sell or dispose of vehicles, including a 2007 Dodge Durango from the fire department and multiple vehicles the police department had impounded
•Gave a first reading to an ordinance to calculate the age of applicants with multiple years of experience
•Approved applying for the city's share of ARP money (American Rescue Plan)
•Gave a first reading to an ordinance annexing 1.185 acres from Monroe Township through an expedited Type 2 annexation