MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon City Council members, city administration and the street department supervisor discussed truck traffic in Mount Vernon during a Streets and Public Buildings committee meeting prior to Monday’s legislative meeting.
“We really need to start looking at this,” said Rebecca Jordan, council woman at large. “I’ve been on council four years and we have committee meetings but we never do anything about it.”
Jordan suggested researching alternatives such as moving truck traffic over to Chestnut Street from High Street, straightening out the intersection at Coshocton Avenue, Park and Chestnut streets to alleviate the multiple 45 degree turns and encouraged council members to bring their own ideas to committee meetings.
Dave Carpenter, street department supervisor, said he has taken the time to look at the street light poles along South Main Street in the business district to see how much damage has been done by semi trucks trying to navigate on or off South Main Street. The intersections of Main and Ohio and Main and Gambier have seen the most destruction, Carpenter said. He believes the truck drivers are deliberately driving on South Main Street and that their presence in downtown is not due to a signage issue.
As far as an alternate route for trucks traveling on U.S. 36, Carpenter was amiable to using Chestnut Street but admitted the intersection of Chestnut and Norton streets would need upgrading.
“Chestnut to Norton would be a nice thing to do,” Carpenter said. “The bricks at that intersection won’t hold the traffic and there would still be some traffic on East High Street.”
Third ward council member Nancy Vail said she would prefer trucks continue to use High Street but would like to see something done at Park and High street to indicate the residential area. Vail also noted her opposition to using Chestnut Street as U.S. 36 because of the churches on the corner of Gay and Chestnut streets. She feels the truck traffic on Sunday morning would disturb church services.
Chuck Dice, second ward council member, disagreed with Vail and said he feels Chestnut is the best alternative to get trucks off Public Square.
“I don’t know why we want to keep diverting truck traffic onto Public Square. We should use Chestnut and Norton Street,” Dice said.
Jordan suggested council conduct a committee meeting prior to every council meeting until a resolution is determined.
Also discussed in committee were:
•A proposed electric aggregation program for city residents and business owners. The program would work in similar fashion to the gas aggregation program where the residents would have to vote to implement the program before Buckeye Energy Brokers Inc. would move forward in acquiring bids for electricity. Distribution and billing would continue to be handled by American Electric Power Ohio.
A proposed timetable for the aggregation program would have council approving legislation in June that would hire Buckeye Energy Brokers Inc. and to place the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot. If approved in November, city residents would be able to opt out of the program in January and the first billing period with the 5 percent to 8 percent anticipated savings would be sometime between March and June of 2012.
•A sixth draft of rules for registering solid waste haulers operating in the city was received by council members to discuss any further changes or additions that need to take place before the rules are slated for adoption by council.
Council members, and city administration, agreed the appeals committee should include either the mayor or the safety-service director and two citizens.
The Mount Vernon Police Department will be in charge of licensing and truck inspections. Police Chief Mike Merrilees commented that he would like to see a few “housekeeping” changes made to the rules, including clarification that licenses would be valid for one year from the day of issuance. Not only will this keep new haulers from paying a prorated or full-year fee per truck but will also keep MVPD from having to inspect all the trucks within a 30-day time period each year.
No committee meetings will be scheduled for the May 9 council meeting as the Knox County Commissioners will join council for a joint meeting at 6 p.m. in the city hall conference room.