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Community News

New Franklin paving way for road projects

2/14/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

NEW FRANKLIN — Two areas along state Route 619 in New Franklin are slated for major improvements this year, and city officials are working to minimize potential disruptions to motorists.

At the Feb. 6 New Franklin City Council meeting, Mayor Al Bollas stated the two projects have been in the planning stages for several years, and he has been talking with various officials to plan for the work to take place at different times.

The first and biggest project will start this spring at the intersection of state routes 619 and 93 (Manchester Road). That work, to be done in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), will require the city to pay 20 percent of the cost, currently estimated to be $279,270. Funds allocated by the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation will be used to pay for the other 80 percent, according to the legislation.

The planned improvements at the intersection include widening state Route 619 to add left-turn lanes in both directions and to add a right-turn lane on southbound Manchester Road. Signal and drainage improvements also are planned.

“This is a big project for the city, but it will create a much safer intersection,” said Councilman Joe Parsons (at large), chair of the Streets and Drainage Committee.

Bollas has stated this intersection has long needed improvements, and Council first approved legislation for engineering design work in May 2010. At the Feb. 6 meeting, Council ratified a participatory agreement with ODOT for the work.

The second improvement project for state Route 619 involves the realignment of South Turkeyfoot Lake Road with Point Comfort Drive. Currently, the two roads are offset and motorists on South Turkeyfoot Lake Road must make a right turn and then an immediate left to access Point Comfort Drive. The intersection also is busy due to a Turkeyfoot Golf Course golf cart parking lot and a parking lot for the Portage Princess access point. Also, Dietz’s Landing is located in the diagonal opposite corner.

City officials have worked out a deal to swap a small triangular piece of land on the east side of South Turkeyfoot Lake Road for another on the west side to create a straighter route through the intersection onto Point Comfort Drive, according to Bollas. He also said the planned improvements would include adding curbs and turn lanes in the area.

Legislation to vacate one parcel and dedicate the other was introduced at the Feb. 6 Council meeting. The project will start with utility work in June, but the bulk of the work will be done after Labor Day to minimize disruptions to the golf course, according to Bollas.

Law Director Tom Musarra said the proposed legislation is being presented to a board of the Turkeyfoot Golf Course for approval, and Council decided to delay its approval of the legislation pending that meeting.

Council did approve two pieces of legislation related to Assistance to Firefighters grants.

One piece of legislation accepts a grant of $45,388 and agrees to $2,389 in matching funds from the city to purchase a fire detection system for Fire Station No. 1, located on Manchester Road next to City Hall, and new dive and rescue equipment and swift water rescue training.

The other item is approval to apply for a $144,794 grant for teaching materials, 1,500 smoke detectors to be installed in senior citizens’ homes and a fire safety trailer to educate elementary-age children and senior citizens about fire safety. The city’s matching share would be $7,239.

Council also approved:

  • advertising for bids for the South Cleveland-Massillon Road resurfacing project;
  • the transfer of more than $335,000 from the General Fund, mostly to the Police and Dispatch funds; and
  • a caretaker’s agreement for the New Franklin Park Civic Center (Tudor House) to establish a fair market rental value in exchange for groundskeeper-specified duties for a person living at the house.

Legislation to purchase a 2013 Ford Interceptor for the Police Department for a total of $28,326 was placed on time, with the police chief scheduled to attend the next meeting to provide more details about the purchase.

Also at the meeting, Sierra Club members Jerry Salisbury, of Springfield, and resident Cheryl Urban, of New Franklin, presented information on injection wells, which Salisbury described as disposal sites for chemical-laced brine water left over from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — the process of extracting natural gas from underground rock formations.

Salisbury is serving as chairman of the Fracking Committee of the Sierra Club.

He stated he is not opposed to fracking if it is done the right way, but he is opposed to the current method being used that involves injecting 6 million gallons of water and chemicals to extract the natural gas and then disposing this water mix into injection wells. He added Ohio has become a dumping site for this water mix, mostly from Pennsylvania.

Salisbury said these wells have an initial 6 percent to 7 percent rate of leaking, and a 50 percent chance of leaking in 15 years, and this, he said, “poisons our aquifers.” He also said 42 percent of Ohioans rely on well water.

Salisbury asked city officials to consider adopting legislation that would ban all injection wells in the area. He said Cincinnati has done this already, and Springfield Township is working on similar legislation to bring to Summit County Council on its behalf. Salisbury said he is approaching other communities in the area for similar action.

During the mayor’s report, Bollas said a caution light and pole at Vanderhoof and Van Buren roads was down and city officials are working to replace it. After some questions, he agreed to study the intersection to determine if a four-way stop sign was needed instead.

The next regular Council meeting will take place Feb. 20 beginning at 6 p.m. with committee meetings, followed by the Council meeting at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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