WILMINGTON — Residents and business owners appreciate the Rombach Avenue project — scheduled to begin construction next summer — but still think the cement medians are a bad idea.
At Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting, Mayor John Stanforth addressed concerns that were voiced at the Oct. 17 council meeting about the cement medians. Stanforth thanked those who came and provided input for the Rombach Avenue project, but wanted to remind locals there was more to the project than the medians.
“The project includes milling and overlay with new asphalt, nearly three miles down Rombach Avenue and Eastside Drive, including extensive full-depth repair,” he said.
He reiterated it also includes a thousand feet of new/replacement sidewalk, new water lines, new traffic signals, and safer crosswalks, particularly around the restaurants.
With the medians, he said they’re still in the submitted plans the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is reviewing — but that could be adjusted.
“ODOT has told me that the decision to leave in or take out the median is a city decision,” said Stanforth.
Many business owners who spoke at the previous meeting returned to speak, reiterating they liked the project but opposed the center medians.
James Mayer, owner of the Wilmington’s Taco Bell, presented a safety study to the council members conducted by LJB Incorporated. The study indicated there were 15 mid-block accidents in a three-year span — between 2015-2017 — where the center medians would be placed.
“Breaking that down, that equates to five accidents per year,” said Mayer. “Now there are many other accidents that didn’t occur where the center medians will go. So, it seems like we’re throwing a lot of money and trying to fix a problem you don’t necessarily have.”
Keith Chambers, owner of the Dairy Queen on Rombach Avenue, said he spoke with two county engineers about the concrete medians. According to Chambers, one of the engineers — Jim Surber from Darke County — told him, “You want to do something to really hurt businesses? Put a concrete median in the road.”
Chambers also indicated this could also affect the real estate value and income tax.
“I think most of your plan is wonderful. I think it’s wonderful what’s going to happen, except for that concrete median,” he said.
Mike Curry, a West Mount Pleasant Road resident, told council making U-turns is one of his concerns with the medians. He said he spoke with a friend who he does road projects with, and that friend indicated he wouldn’t be able to make the U-turn with his pickup truck.
After conducting his own experiments, Curry found he would need more than the 36 feet to make the U-turn. He said he also found other models of cars and truck would face similar issues.
The idea of a public forum about the project was mentioned. Most of the council members decided to wait until the beginning of the new year to schedule it, since most of their time right now is focused on getting the 2020 budget ready.
Also during council:
• Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker urged citizens that if they receive a notice about upgrading their existing water meter, to contact FATHOM as soon as possible. According to a second service notice from the city, the upgrade is mandatory and at no cost to the customer.
A resident will need to schedule an appointment with FATHOM by calling 937-971-8297. Someone 18 years or older must be present when the installer is there and it normally takes around 30 minutes to complete. Non-compliance could result in fees and/or water service interruption.
Shidaker told council there were still roughly 800 residences that haven’t upgraded yet, and he encourages those to contact them as soon as possible.