West Akron couple urge Council to fence Y-Bridge
Also, Akron City Council approves scrap metal ordinance
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Robert and Carolyn Conley, of Northwest Akron, want to see a fence erected on the All-America Bridge, also known as the Y-Bridge, to prevent the same tragedy that haunts them from haunting other families.
Their son, Kevin Conley, 20, jumped to his death March 30, 2006, from the Y-Bridge, and just more than two years later, his parents appeared before Akron City Council’s Public Safety Committee to beseech Council members to revisit building a fence on the bridge to prevent suicides like Kevin’s.
“People have a tendency to say right away, well, you know, if it wasn’t [going off the bridge], they’d have found some other way,” Robert Conley said. “That might be true, but, statistically, if someone had another 10 to 15 minutes to think about the consequences of the fact of taking your own life, 95 percent of them change their minds.”
The time it takes to scale a fence could have been all it took to get safety services to the scene or change Kevin’s mind, Robert Conley said.
“If we had 10 minutes longer, maybe he’d be here today, and maybe he’d be addressing the fact, ‘I thought about going off the Y-Bridge, but the fence stopped me,” he said.
Akron Police Maj. Gus Hall said there were five suicides from the Y-Bridge each in 2005 and 2006, one in 2007, and there have been none so far this year.
Ralph Coletta, newly appointed as city engineer, told the committee the cost of erecting a traditional fence on the bridge would be almost $1 million. A Plexiglas-like barrier would run $2.7 to $3 million, and a combination fencing with an arch would be $5.2 million. He cautioned these numbers are four years old.
One of the reasons for the high cost, he said, is the force of the winds that rake the Y-Bridge. However, the design and construction of the fence would be a relatively short process, he said.
The city has asked for state help to fund the fence but was denied. They could make the request again, city officials said, or even ask for partial funding.
“I know money’s an issue, but so is this kid’s life,” said Councilman Bob Keith (D-Ward 8), who was acquainted with Kevin Conley. Keith asked if a temporary measure, such as netting, could be put in place while the city explored a more permanent solution. He also suggested backing up another project, such as Young’s Restaurant, to make a fence a priority.
“We’re looking at $1 million, and it just seems like that’s not very much to ask for to save a life,” said Councilman Jim Shealey (D-at large), who chairs the committee. “We should be able to get this done, no question.”
The Conleys are generating a Web site at www.akronyb.info to further process information about the bridge. Robert Conley told committee members he would be happy to help work toward raising private funding, as well.
“Mr. Conley, we are going to definitely work toward getting something done on that bridge,” Shealey said.
In other business, Council approved the ordinance it has been working on regulating the sale of scrap metal. The tougher law is meant to diminish thefts of items such as bleachers from football stadiums, copper pipes and aluminum siding from empty homes and catalytic converters from vehicles.
The ordinance states:
- Dealers must keep records of all transactions, including: name and current address; a copy of the person’s identification; a thumb print; the date, time and name of the dealer’s representative on the transaction; license plate number and state of registration; and description of material.
- Dealers must provide a daily list of purchases to the Akron Police Department.
- Additional requirements for “restricted articles” (which include grave markers and catalytic converters, among other items) include a photograph of the article and the seller, proof of seller’s ownership and payment to the seller by check or debit card.
- Purchases are prohibited from sellers who are younger than 18, refuse to produce identification or are on a list of previously convicted individuals.
Council’s Economic Development and Job Creation Committee also heard a presentation on, and continued to request time on, a proposal to offer broadband wireless service to 11 square miles of the central city. City officials have been exploring the possibility with the Knight Foundation, The University of Akron and OneCommunity, a nonprofit organization.
The next Akron City Council meeting is set for June 9 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings will begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.
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