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Motorists must obey barricades or risk tickets

2/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Fairlawn City Council has given police officers the ability to ticket motorists who bypass road barricades in the city. However, the ordinance doesn’t yet cover Rothrock Road, shown at above.
Photo: Krista Galloway/file photo
FAIRLAWN — During the Feb. 4 Fairlawn City Council meeting, Council passed an ordinance that gives police officers the ability to ticket motorists who travel “upon or around a closed roadway.”

The ordinance passed by a 5-2 vote, with Council members Susan Sullivan (Ward 5) and Kathleen Baum (Ward 6) casting dissenting votes.

Passage of the ordinance creates a new section — 414.13 “traveling upon or around a closed roadway” — in the city’s codified ordinances.

Specifically cited in the ordinance are the closures of Rothrock Road and Rosemont Boulevard. The ordinance states: “Vehicular traffic is hereby prohibited from traveling on a section of Rothrock Road in the city of Fairlawn comprising an area 25 feet on either side of the barricades installed to close the roadway to through traffic pursuant to ordinance No. 2011-064SA.” Traffic also is prohibited from traveling on the unpaved portion of the right of way or private property along Rothrock Road “in order to avoid, circumvent or travel around the barricades installed to close the roadway.”

The ordinance also places similar restrictions regarding Rosemont Boulevard, which is closed by security gates.

“The police chief asked for an ordinance [for] the ability to ticket people if they go around the barriers,” said Fairlawn Mayor William Roth, adding the ordinance would allow an officer to give “a typical traffic ticket.”

“It’s a minor misdemeanor,” he said.

According to Council President Russ Sharnsky (at large), the ordinance “gives the police department another tool for enforcement.”

“We had nothing,” he stated. “We didn’t have any gates or barricades up in the city before — this is something new — so it gives the police something specific they can cite. There are other things they could give you a ticket for if you drive around these barricades, but this is specific to the barricades.”

Fairlawn is waiting for a court decision regarding the legality of closing Rothrock Road to through traffic.

“Right now, [the ordinance] covers Rosemont and, in the future, if Rothrock Road is closed by the court, it would cover that, too,” the mayor said. “But, obviously, we want it on the books.”

Sullivan cited the fact that a decision hasn’t been made regarding the closure of Rothrock Road as the reason she voted against the ordinance.

“I felt like we should wait for the opinion from the court,” she stated. “We don’t have an opinion yet, and I wasn’t comfortable saying ‘yes’ without that.”

Sharnsky said he voted for the ordinance because the city already has “an active gate” in place on Rosemont.

“I didn’t see any harm in going ahead and getting it done because we do have the one gate,” he said.

Roth said the ordinance will go into effect 10 days after it is posted.

Also during the meeting:

• Council unanimously OK’d a resolution authorizing the mayor to prepare plans, specifications and cost estimates and obtain bids for the Smith Road improvement project.

“We’re going to be working with the city of Akron on this,” Roth explained. “Akron is replacing a waterline throughout their sections on Smith Road and, obviously, part goes through Fairlawn itself. Part of this bid is to replace a waterline, which we are moving out from under Smith Road and into the berm. And part will also be involving the elimination of some open storm ditches laying in a storm sewer, curb and gutter.”

The mayor said Fairlawn and Akron will host separate bidding processes for the project and now is the perfect time to look for bids.

“We want our specifications for our part of the project, because it matches what we already have,” he said. “And this is the time of the year contractors are filling their plates and we get the best prices.”

Sharnsky asked Deputy Service Director Ernie Staten what kind of a timeline Fairlawn could expect for the project.

“The city of Akron’s waterline will be done in the spring or early summer, and then our project would have to start after that,” Staten replied.

Roth said Fairlawn will start advertising for bids “as early as next week.”

• Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Beisecker said her department’s spring program guide will be sent out by email this week. She said it also will be available for viewing on the city’s website at www.cityoffairlawn.com.

The next meeting is set a day later than usual due to Presidents’ Day, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road. The next Committee-of-the-Whole meeting is set for Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.

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