When Putman Elementary opened in 1953, was razed and rebuilt in 2002, students walked to school on sidewalks provided. Today, the K-3 children rarely walk.
Living across from Putman since 1982, I’m familiar with school activities. On Oct. 18, 2019, a letter was received from Choice One Engineering proposing the Village of Blanchester and ODOT’s intentions to improve sidewalks on E. Baldwin St. Nov. 4, in a conversation with Mayor Carman, I voiced questions/concerns regarding it.
Not until November 2020 was a letter received from Dunrobin Associates, LLC (hired by the village) advising of the impending improvement on CLI-Blanchester SRTS (Safe Routes to School). Contact forms were included and returned; however, Dunrobin made no contacts.
Jan. 21, 2021, certified mailing from Dunrobin was received by impacted residents explaining “Notice of Intent to Acquire”. Village intent was to acquire public right-of-way of the property to install a sidewalk across from Putman. This information prompted two of us to write a petition opposing the project, and circulate it to those impacted, gleaning 16 signatures; it was forwarded to the mayor and council members in a timely manner.
Prior to the Jan.28, 2021 council meeting, I spoke with the mayor regarding our 2019 conversation. Remembering it, he admitted his intention to speak with residents but hadn’t because of COVID. Where was he between November and mid-March 2020 when COVID was declared a pandemic? Worthy of mentioning are the Choice One invoices furnished by ODOT dated Nov. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020. The project was well underway!
The crux is that the village is $60,000 into the project and cannot reject it without repayment to ODOT. Council voted 4-2 to accept the project that night.
Unfortunately, impacted residents who maintain this property 365 days yearly will lose mature trees and valuable driveway parking, only to receive in return a 5-foot wide sidewalk, in 8 feet from the curb, placing it in the middle of most lawns.
These officials are voted into office to wisely administer village business but feel so empowered to forge ahead shoving projects like this down our throats. Obviously, any input from residents falls on deaf ears.
I would be remiss not to mention council members Mr. Brumbaugh and Mr. Simpson voting to reject the project.
“The Sidewalk that Leads to Nowhere” project is scheduled to begin March 1, 2022.