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Council discusses intersection, water department projects

The possibility of putting a 3-way stop light at an intersection was the topic of debate among Ironton City Council members Thursday evening.

At the Ironton City Council Public Utilities Committee meeting held before the council meeting, members discussed the intersection at South Seventh Street and Park Avenue.

Currently the intersection has a stop sign and flashing yellow light on the Seventh Street side. Seventh Street is a one-way street. Park Avenue is a two-way street and drivers are not required to stop. Park Avenue has left turning lanes as well.

Councilman Chuck O’Leary has sponsored an ordinance to make the intersection a 3-way stop. O’Leary’s mother was involved in a car accident recently at that intersection, he said.

“She wasn’t hurt, but if she was hurt I would hold someone in the city responsible,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary argued that the turning lanes obstruct drivers’ view. He said he sent a letter to state officials about the intersection and that they responded that the turning lanes were put in to ease access to nearby businesses.

“That’s what really angers me,” he said. “They’ve got turning lanes there trying to ease access to businesses.

“Someone’s going to die at this thing. Someone’s going to die.”

Doug Cade, of E.L. Robinson Engineering, told council that the city had to abide by regulations from the Ohio Department of Transportation for stop signals. If not, the city risks losing ODOT funding and also risks being responsible for accidents that occur at the intersection, Cade said. A recent traffic study by ODOT found that the intersection did not need a 3-way stop, he said.

Cade instead suggested a sign that alerts Seventh Street drivers that drivers on Park Avenue do not have a stoplight.

Councilman Frank Murphy said he lives near the intersection and has seen several car accidents there over the years.

Council’s job, Murphy said, is to protect the residents and “I really don’t give a damn what ODOT says,” Murphy said. “I say we put a light in there and fight them.”

According to statistics provided by Mayor Rich Blankenship, there were six traffic accidents at the intersection in 2008, six in 2009 and two so far this year.

Council heard the first reading of the ordinance Thursday night and should hear the second reading at the next council meeting Aug. 12.

Council also discussed the possibility of two projects involving the city’s water department.

One of the projects is to replace the city’s water meters with electronic ones. The project is $1.4 million, 30 percent of which will be from grants from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The loan would be repaid over the next 30 years with 2 percent interest with funds from the city’s water.

Support for the water meter replacement project came from Mark White, Ironton Water Plant Superintendent, along with Kenny Miller, who works in the water department. Both attended the council meeting and spoke to council members.

White told council that the project might mean that city water rates may not have to be raised for a while.

Miller said the new water meters would mean that he and other water department employees could spend more time attending to water leaks and other problems instead of stopping five days each month to read meters.

The new meters would be read electronically, which would also eliminate human error, Miller said.

“Don’t be afraid to invest money in something that’s going to pay its own self back and in a short time. And I believe it will,” Miller said.

The other project is to rehabilitate waterlines like the one that runs from Lorain Street to the Village of Coal Grove, that has needed several repairs. The city is eligible for $5 million in funding from the OEPA, 30 percent of which would be in grants. Like the water meter replacement project, the loans would be paid back with funds from the city’s water fees.

Finance Director Kristen Martin said the officials should compile information about the cost of each of the waterlines and decide how much of the money to use.

A finance committee meeting to discuss the waterline rehabilitation project has been set for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

In other business, Ironton City Council also:

Heard the second reading of an ordinance authorizing the Blankenship to convey a piece of property to the State of Ohio.

Passed an ordinance providing equal housing opportunity in the city. The ordinance passed with a 4-3 vote. Councilwoman Beth Rist, along with Councilmen Bob Cleary and Dave Frazer voted against the ordinance. Cleary declined to comment on why he voted against it, while Frazer said his decision concerns who is in charge of the policy and what limits there are. He declined to comment further.

Passed an ordinance vacating Lewis Lane Street.

Passed a resolution supporting the official naming of the area within Linear Park on South Third Street as Rotary Fountain.

Passed a resolution authorizing the execution of a housing revolving loan fund administration agreement between the City of Ironton and the State of Ohio.