PIQUA – By a vote of three to two, the Piqua City Commission tabled a resolution for design services for a multi-use path that would connect Scott Drive to Looney Road on the north side of U.S. Route 36 during their meeting on Tuesday evening. Mayor Lucy Fess and Commissioner Judy Terry each voted against tabling the resolution.
It was a question of money that led to the tabling of this resolution. Commissioners Bill Vogt, John Martin, and Joe Wilson appeared wary of the cost.
The overall project was expecting to cost approximately $575,000. The city obtained a grant for up to $350,000 for the construction of the project from Transportation Alternatives funding from the Federal Highway Administration.
The engineering portion of the project must be funded with 100 percent local funds. The design services was on the agenda during the meeting on Tuesday evening, and the contract for the agreement was not to exceed $105,000.
“What’s wrong with the walk that’s already out there?” Vogt asked. “I don’t see any sense in going over that…We can use that money for other places. I’m just looking out for the taxpayers.”
Martin asked about the current usage of the sidewalk out there. City Engineer Amy Havenar stated that they did not have a count or an estimate for that.
According to Havenar’s staff report about the East Ash Street Bikeway project, the multi-use path would be separated from the roadway and use the same alignment as the existing sidewalk. It would widen the area and add a vehicular barrier on the U.S. Route 36 bridge over I-75.
Havenar also explained that the project would connect with a bridge improvement project being completed by the Ohio Department of Transporation (ODOT) on the Ash Street bridge that goes over the Great Miami River.
“They’re just spending our money (like) crazy,” Vogt said about ODOT.
“I ride my bike just about everywhere,” said Jeff Lange, of Piqua and of Protecting Our Water Ways, during public comment. “That is a very dangerous place to ride a bike. You got to know what you’re doing.”
Lange encouraged the commission to purse this multi-use path in order to eliminate that risk of riding a bike down that stretch of road.
“You got to think of the future, so keep your eyes open,” Lange said. “I’m all in approval of this, and I hope you are, too.”
“We want the safety of our citizens,” said Jim Hemmert, of Bike Piqua.
Hemmert explained that there are approximately 80 bike riders in Piqua recording their mileage since May online. They have totaled 26,352 miles this far. Seven in particular have accumulated 14,200 miles.
“There’s a lot of bicycle riding going on,” Hemmert said. “Please consider it.”
Mike Gutmann of Piqua also spoke on this possible multi-use, stating that it would make Piqua more accessible for cyclists.
“People are talking about Piqua being proactive and being ahead of the game,” Gutmann said. Gutmann stated that at the Bike Miami Valley regional meeting, “People were commenting about how Piqua has really shined.”
After public comment, Vogt made a motion to table the ordinance in order to look at cost of this project and from where the funds were specifically coming.
“I want to know where the money’s coming from,” Vogt said. “I have to know where the money’s coming from.”
“We have construction funds,” Huff said. “We will not be taking any funds away from paving … These are funds we have available to do construction projects.”
Martin asked if this project was essentially changing a four-foot concrete sidewalk to an eight-foot pavement path. Havenar indicated yes. Earlier, Huff stated this multi-use path would also have bollards on the bridge.
“That just makes no sense to me,” Martin said. “Concrete will last forever, pavement doesn’t.”
Wilson also questioned whether it was necessary to widen that sidewalk into a multi-use path for that amount of money.
The ordinance was then tabled.
Also on the commission’s agenda, they held the first reading of an ordinance that will update the gas franchise agreement with Vectren. According to the Piqua City Attorney Stacy Wall, the significant changes to the agreement include:
- A five-year term, which will automatically renew
- Six-month notice to terminate agreement
- The ability for the city of Piqua “to request a yearly construction and maintenance plan and maps covering the natural gas facilities in the public right of way”
- Vectren must secure a permit prior before any construction in the right of way
- A performance bond will be required
- Vectren will be obligated “to move or adjust facilities” when there is a need “to accommodate a municipal improvement”
Wall stated that Vectren had sought an agreement for a 25-year term, but the city did not want that. According to Wall, Vectren was very cooperative and agreed to a five-year term that will automatically renew.
The commission also voted on and approved three resolutions regarding preliminary consent legislation with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The preliminary consent legislation will be for the proposed resurfacing of a portion of U.S. Route 36, for the microsurfacing of a portion of U.S. Route 36, and for bridge repairs on State Route 66.
Also approved on the commission’s agenda:
- A resolution approving the tax rates for the city that the Miami County Budget Commission determined
- A resolution authorizing a lease with the Miami County Amateur Radio Club for radio communications purposes
The Piqua City Commission meeting began with a joint meeting with the Washington Township trustees on Tuesday evening. The purpose of the meeting was to appoint Frank J. Patrizio to fill the unexpired term of Harlen Smoot on the board of trustees of Forest Hill Union Cemetery.
Smoot recently passed away.
“It was a great loss,” Fess said. “He was a great guy, a good buddy, and I think we will all miss him a lot.”
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall