Last updated: July 02. 2014 6:06PM - 1850 Views
By Ilene Haluska ihaluska@civitasmedia.com

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GREENVILLE — Over a dozen residents showed up to the Greenville City Council meeting and spent nearly an hour addressing the proposed Gardenwood/Rhoades Reconstruction project. They objected to an additional tax for it or to some of the proposed improvements.

Officials said the project is in the preliminary design stages and is only an estimate.

The residents’ complaints arose after learning that the city is planning to have Gardenwood neighborhood residents help pay for public road improvements, which includes new sidewalks. About 50 property owners in the area could pay up to $4,000 over five years. The improvements are expected to result in a loop to include State Route 118, to Rhoades Road, to Gardenwood Road and back. It would tie in the future to downtown at Broadway and Main Street.

One Gardenwood resident first spoke and afterward received applause from several residents for questioning the issue before the council. Tom Wilson said that the city picks and chooses who pays for road and sidewalk improvements and it’s not fair.

Another resident spoke explaining he surveyed 44 residents and they oppose different aspects of the project. He also claims that several of the residents are on fixed incomes and may not be able to afford the added tax.

Another property owner said that one area of town looks nice after the city’s roadwork and new sidewalks, but Gardenwood is a main thoroughfare, and his property line is long and he would have to pay the maximum assessment.

Sidewalks became an issue during the public’s commentary. One residents asked if he could put in his own sidewalks if they cost less than the city’s costs. They questioned the need for sidewalks on both sides of the street, why not just one side? Some said that not many people use the sidewalks and prefer to walk on the pavement than cement because it’s easier on their legs. One resident said that she purchased a home in the neighborhood, because it didn’t have sidewalks and she doesn’t want them. Also people use bicycles, not just on the sidewalks. There’s no place in town to ride bicycles, but the improvements will bring more traffic through the area.

Another point of discussion were driveways. One resident said he has installed a new driveway already and the improvements would take out a third of it. Another said he would like a new driveway because his is cracked, but the city’s proposal would only go to a certain point on his property.

They questioned what will happen if they get a new sanitary sewer line and will they still have sewage facilities during the roadwork. Another questioned how much it will cost the city, and if it’s worth it.

The council clarified that the improvements would not start in July.

City officials said that they appreciated the public’s input, because the area is part of a master plan for a loop around and to the downtown Broadway area and for walking and biking safety with sidewalks. The city is trying to be efficient to do all the road improvements at once because it’s old infrastructure.

“This part of the project is stopping at Victoria [Street],” said Mayor Mike Bowers.

There will be a meeting, he said. A preliminary meeting was held, but no one showed up. He asked the residents if a notice in the residents’ water bills would help.

Councilmen Tracy Tyron agreed and verified that the project is in the design stages. He like all the councilmen appreciate the proactive efforts of the neighborhood’s residents.

Safety Service Director Curt Garrison said the project is estimated to cost $1.2 million dollars.

“As we move forward with that design, we will have a public meeting and ask the city to discuss to do what’s best for the city and the public concern.”

President John Burkett added that the project is just an estimate and the assessment fees are based on the actual assessment. Other funding is paid from tax revenue and the county gets an assessment administrative fee.

“It’s great to have the public input and we don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Right now it’s in a design phase,” Mayor Bowers said after the meeting.

There will be a meeting for the citizens for a final decision, he said.

In other city business, the Greenville City Council approved during a joint meeting with the Greenville-Union Cemetery board the nomination of John Baumgardner to the Cemetery Board. He is expected to start Jan. 1, 2015 and to fill the seat of outgoing board member Ron Klosterman, according to Klosterman.

The council also agreed to table the two mil tax referendums for its next meeting and accepted the following:

- To authorize the Safety Service Director to advertise for bids for the Winchester Avenue Sanitary Sewer Project;

- To approve a contract for engineering services with Mote and Associates for the West Fourth/Sweitzer Street project;

- To authorize the police department to participate in a crime prevention fund-raising program with the Moose Lodge to provide prepaid booklets to Greenville City School students; and

- To submit an application for the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement and Local Transportation Improvement Program to make capital improvements to the intersection of East Main and North Ohio Streets.

- To establish a handicapped parking space at 117 Green Street and one at 600 E. Water Street.

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