WILMINGTON — After detailed explanations on the Rombach Avenue Paving Project, most attendees who spoke at a public meeting Wednesday evening still object to the center medians proposed for the 2020 work.
Local residents, business owners and officials packed the Municipal Building’s Robert Moyer Community Room for the meeting hosted by the City of Wilmington and City Council.
Paul Goodhue, the consultant city engineer, spoke about the project with a presentation breaking down the project and what they hope to get out of it.
A majority of people who signed up to speak were local business/franchise owners who previously spoke in favor of a majority of the project — except for the center medians.
James Mayer, owner of Taco Bell on Rombach Avenue, reiterated his support of the project except for the medians. Mayer believes medians will hurt not only current businesses on Rombach Avenue, but also any future prospects.
“They are business killers,” Mayer said, adding more business owners are deterred from developing in areas with center medians.
Mayer also advised the loss of business and declining sales caused by the medians could lead to loss of tax revenue for the city, with less sales tax, real estate tax, and income tax revues.
“Can the city really afford any loss of revenue?” asked Mayer.
Outside of the business perspective, Nick Babb gave his views as a former emergency services worker. Babb recalled if there was an accident or medical emergency on, they would use the center lane to get around traffic. He told officials attendees the mediums could cost a serious delay in emergency services people arriving.
Of the public speakers who signed up, Rick Stanforth was the only who spoke in support of the entire project, citing safety concerns and how the plan puts safety first.
Mayor John Stanforth thanked everyone for coming out to speak at the meeting. He reiterated to the crowd that while the medians are currently a part of the plan, that plan is not set in stone and things can change.
He said he would meet with Goodhue, Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker and other officials and should have what the next step will be at the Feb. 6 city council meeting.
About the project
Mayor Stanforth, at a November meeting of city council, addressed concerns of business owners voiced at earlier meetings about the proposed concrete medians, and he reiterated the scope of the project.
“The project includes milling and overlay with new asphalt, nearly three miles down Rombach Avenue and Eastside Drive, including extensive full-depth repair,” Stanforth said then.
The project also includes a thousand feet of new/replacement sidewalk, new water lines, new traffic signals, and safer crosswalks, particularly around the restaurants.
Regarding medians, Stanforth said then that medians were 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 had earlier publicly stated that they like the overall plans for the project, but they oppose the center medians, stating that medians could negatively affect their businesses.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574