MOUNT VERNON — The city got a bit of a wrench thrown in some of its future plans recently.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said, in preliminary chats with the railroad company, an issue arose in the city’s plan to connect Kokosing Gap Trail and the Heart of Ohio Trail near Foundation Park. The railroad company has a strict policy against pedestrian and bicycle trails crossing working railroad lines. For the city to connect the two trails, they would have to dig a tunnel or build a bridge to get across the working railroad line that passes between Foundation Park and the land near The Station Break.
Mavis noted that Newark has used box culverts to build a tunnel under railroad lines, and that might be one possibility.
“It’s a little obstruction we did not count on,” Mavis said. “But there’s plenty of time to solve it since we’re three years from building the project. We’ll just have to find some other way to cross the railroad.”
Another crossing area that has become a concern is the crosswalk at West High Street near Riverside Park. As warmer weather has come, more residents, especially children, are using the crosswalk to get to the park or to the restaurant across the street.
The city has looked at the location of the crosswalk and is checking into the possibility of more bold striping, as well as a portable caution sign in the middle of the roadway. They have also discussed parking near the crosswalk. Mavis said he hopes they have some answers soon.
In other news:
•Mavis said patching the potholes has been done in the north and west ends of the city and workers are currently in the east end. He expects another week’s work in the east end before city workers will head to the south end. Mavis also reported the new maintainer is working well and the city is grading alleys north of West High Street. All patching and grading work is being done when weather permits.
•The city has cleared trails around the lakes in Foundation Park. Workers will be putting the finishing touches on them, including gravel, over the next few weeks, and Mavis hopes to have them open for pedestrians later this summer. The new area will add about three miles of trails.
•The federal government has delayed the announcement of the EPA grants, which Mount Vernon was attempting to get $400,000 for the cleanup of the recently annexed American National Can property. It will be about two or three weeks before it is announced.
•The city will be blocking off a trail near the railroad tracks between Tilden Avenue and the ANC property. Trash has been piling up in the area, and after the city cleans it up, they will put barricades up to prevent people from dropping off trash there.
•Mavis met with volunteers at the cat shelter recently, getting a tour of the building. He noted the shelter is doing what it can with strays and abandoned cats, but does not have the capacity to accept every cat brought to it.
“In my opinion, they do a great service to the community, but the facility cannot take every cat captured in the city that no one owns,” Mavis said. “That’s a problem and we don’t have a solution yet. As a community, we have to spend time and look at some possible solutions.”
•The city’s dilapidated building commission has put together a list of properties they would like to take care of as soon as possible. Mavis said that Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds may be available as early as July to help with tearing down the abandoned buildings.
•Mavis said the work on Gay Street from Howard to Chestnut streets is still on schedule as the workers finish up installing the water lines. The bricks being removed in the project are being placed near the water treatment plant where city workers will clean and sort them at a later date.
•The city is looking into applying for stimulus money from the local transportation fund for the Ohio 229/Edgewood Road project. The proposed project would widen the roads, allowing for a left turn lane on all four sides and would cost approximately $350,000.
•Mavis reported that he and City Engineer Cameron Keaton attended the Monroe Township Trustees’ meeting Monday. They discussed the proposed road project that includes Upper Gilchrist, New Gambier and Eastern Star roads.
“One thing that I was trying to make clear is, if the project is to have any hope, we have to get over some political hurdles. The city has a maintenance contract for the road, but does not have the authority to rebuild the road,” he said. “If the township does not agree, then we cannot do anything.”