Blanchester residents, council address proposed sidewalk near elementary school

By John Hamilton - [email protected]

BLANCHESTER — Some locals are questioning the safety and need for an additional sidewalk.

Holly Drummond, who lives across the street from Putman Elementary School, addressed concerns she said she and other residents have about a proposed sidewalk during Thursday’s Blanchester Village Council meeting.

The proposed new sidewalk for Baldwin Street is part of the village’s Safe Routes to School project. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) program provides funds to school districts to increase pedestrian activity and infrastructure in the community.

“There’s no parking on our side of the street,” said Drummond. “And we see no reason why there needs to be a sidewalk on this side of the street. It just makes no sense to us.”

Drummond referenced a study from ODOT which indicated there were only two students who walked to Putman Elementary. She also told council about a petition locals had signed in protest to the proposed sidewalk.

She addressed concerns about potential property destruction and a decrease in property value.

“It tears up our property just for no reason whatsoever,” she said. “We lose trees. You say the property value will go up because of sidewalks … the property taxes will also increase too.”

Mayor John Carman indicated they are aware of many areas that were “unfriendly” to pedestrians. But it was through a study by ODOT that indicated Baldwin Street was a spot that would benefit from a sidewalk.

Lisa Burns from Dunrobin Associates, the right-of-way and real estate consulting firm, pointed out that nothing permanent would be done to the properties. “Temporary easements” might occur, according to Burns. An example she gave was the uprooting of a tree due to it being close to the proposed site.

“(The village) is building the sidewalk in what is (the village’s property) today,” said Burns.

Councilmember Don Gephart told council he felt there was a need for the sidewalk since the traffic pattern at the school is “a mess.”

Councilmember Harry Brumbaugh believes adding another sidewalk to the street would be “non-functional.”

Carman told councilmembers to use caution in the idea of changing the project as it could hurt them down the line when applying for grants.

Councilmember Reilly Hopkins worried about the children’s’ safety due to them possibly “dodging out” into traffic.

“I think we need to work with everyone to make sure the safest plan is implemented,” said Hopkins.

Councilmember Chad Hollon said he understood the concerns but feels like the project needs to get started.

Council ultimately passed the motion to continue the project in a 4-2 vote with Councilmembers Brumbaugh and Richard Simpson voting against it.

By John Hamilton

[email protected]

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574