MOUNT VERNON — Three Mount Vernon residents brought their concerns to City Council members Saturday morning during the monthly hour-long roundtable discussion.
Janet Chandler addressed her concern with the city’s lack of transportation options for those who prefer to walk or bicycle.
“I’m wondering about transportation in the city and if there are any long-term plans as far as public transportation for walking and biking,” Chandler said.
At-large representative Rebecca Jordan, who also sits on an Ohio Department of Transportation committee, said work is in progress to connect the Heart of Ohio Trail with the Kokosing Gap Trail. She also pointed out the city’s efforts to widen Sandusky Street to alleviate truck traffic through downtown, as well as Gay and Mulberry streets.
Chandler said she often bikes to Kroger, but there are no sidewalks and certainly no room on the roadways for her to safely travel like in other cities.
“We are working to create better traffic flow in that area right now,” said 3rd Ward representative Derk Demaree. “We typically receive CDBG grants, which include sidewalks and handicapped-assessable curbs every other year, but those are connected to residential neighborhoods. We have plans for Coshocton Avenue by the Nazarene Church to help traffic, but it does not add sidewalks.”
In Madison, Wis., according to Chandler, a curb-side lane for bikers is built into the city’s infrastructure.The bike lane is used year-round by residents and students.
“It would help create an accessible, healthy community with less transportation needs. I encourage council to look at what the first steps are to create that atmosphere long-term,” Chandler said.
Councilman John Fair, who has been a strong advocate for better planning on the city’s part, responded to Chandler’s request stating there is “an absence of any kind of forward-thinking plan. There is no five-year plan.”
Larry Fogle, city resident and city code enforcement officer, defended the attributes the city and county possess that offer opportunities for walking and biking.
“I grew up here and moved away for many years. After moving back, I’m impressed with the Kokosing Gap Trail and Wolf Run Park. I am very impressed with what we have here now,” he said.
“This is a fabulous community with incredible resources. I feel these additions would improve the city even more,” Chandler responded.
Dale Hilkert, a north side city resident, expressed his concerns with city water pressure in his neighborhood, especially when the Mount Vernon Fire Department is fighting active fires.
“When the Church of Christ burned a year ago, we had no pressure. When the Belmont Avenue apartments burned, we had no pressure. When fireworks went off and burned the house on Grange Avenue, we had no pressure. In each case, we had absolutely no water pressure on the hill. We don’t have pressure when they flush the hydrants, either,” he said.
Hilkert said he’s had trouble before with water issues in his home in the Compass Pointe neighborhood off of Mansfield Road but he, and his neighbors, are concerned about what would happen to their subdivision should there be a fire elsewhere in the city and one in their neighborhood at the same time, with no water pressure.
Demaree reminded Hilkert a new loop has been designed to help correct the water pressure situation in the city.
Bruce Hawkins, at-large representative, suggested Hilkert speak with 1st Ward representative Burt Hanson, who also chairs the Water and Wastewater Committee.
“Burt is aggressive and passionate about water and sewer issues. He would be the one that would have all the answers on this kind of issue,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins continued the discussion, questioning the city’s ability to provide proper amenities to new development before annexing them into the city.
“We really need to look into water and sewer and other services we provide before annexing any more land,” he said.
A familiar face to the monthly meetings, Brenda Nixon, spoke with council members about two issues. The first was her concern with semitrailer traffic in the downtown area. Nixon said she recently witnessed a semitrailer turning from Gambier Street onto Main Street that tied up traffic and had the potential for personal injury, especially for pedestrians.
“If police could go on a month-long campaign and start issuing citation for trucks traveling on inappropriate roadways, we could get this situation to end,” Nixon said.
Nixon said she called the Mount Vernon Police Department recently because of noise and disturbance issues with children in her neighborhood. The dispatcher on duty informed Nixon the city did not have a noise ordinance and trespassing would be all an officer could enforce. She then questioned the council members as to why the city did not have such an ordinance.
“We do have a noise ordinance,” said Hawkins. “If you can hear a radio 100 feet away, it is in violation of the noise ordinance.”
After a discussion regarding how to deal with situations such as unruly children and neighborhood disagreements, Nixon learned the city enforces a midnight curfew for those under 18 years of age, and that city ordinances are available online at www.mountvernonohio.org.
Members of Mount Vernon City Council meet with the public the first Saturday of each month from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at Sips, 101 S. Main St.