Parents ask council for help
By Fran Odyniec
Parents’ concern over the afternoon traffic congestion at Plain City Elementary School reached the Plain City Village Council at its meeting Monday evening, Feb. 13.
Todd Haines, a resident of Willow Creek Court, simply stated about the congestion that builds at dismissal time, “You can’t get through. There are 34 to 40 cars waiting in a line that extends out onto the roadway (South Chillicothe Street).
At a previous council meeting, former council member Bob Walter had reported that he had experienced a similar situation one afternoon when he was driving on South Chillicothe.
Tiffany Udailey, who attended the meeting with her husband Jim, both of whom also are residents of Willow Creek Court, told council, “This is more of a safety issue. There is a potential for car accidents at the (school’s) driveway.
According to these residents, if the Jonathan Alder School District were to run a school bus down Carriage Drive to Buckboard Lane and over to Willow Creek Court and Drive, it would relieve as much as 60 percent of the congestion that backs up on to South Chillicothe.
“We have tried several times since school started to get the school to look into getting a bus through these neighborhoods,” Haines said. “I have observed that buses are only half-full. We have been told that there is no money for a bus.”
Haines also stated that he would not be comfortable in having his daughter, who is in second grade, “walking the back paths to school.”
Mayor Sandra Adkins said that the village is well aware of the traffic congestion on state Route 142 (South Chillicothe Street), but “there is no immediate solution. We have pressed upon them the need for coming up with a solution.”
The mayor and Plain City Chief of Police Jim Hill have met with the school’s principal, Kelly Hicks, and officials from the Jonathan Alder School District.
“We are working on it,” Adkins told the concerned parents. “Something has to be resolved. They (school district) know our position. There are options out there and safety is the biggest issue.”
Chief Hill said that the police department will work with all parties involved to resolve the situation.
Council member Doug Saxour pointed out that the elementary school offers a shuttle service from a pick up area on West Main Street in front of the old elementary school building for students who live on streets not serviced by a school bus.
Council member Kevin Vaughn reminded the meeting that “our responsibility is to keep our kids safe on our village roads.”
Village Solicitor Eamon Costello pointed out that the elementary school’s parking lot where the congestion actually begins is on private property which limits any action the council would consider to remedy the situation.
Mayor Adkins directed council to further discuss the traffic congestion at the elementary school at its next work session, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The council also discussed the need for an increase in the village’s sewer and water fees. However, before any action could be taken, a study of the existing rate structure must be made as mandated by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission.
“A study has not been done since 1995,” the mayor pointed out. “It may be timely to do one, if council agrees on the concept of a study.”
Village Administrator Steve Hilbert estimated the cost of such a study to run between $5,000 and $10,000.
“That’s only a guesstimate,” Hilbert emphasized.
The prospect of a rate increase is something the village could face sooner than later due to a couple of factors.
“It is a real possibility due to a lack of building in the village,” said President Pro Tem Mark Hostetler, referring to the absence of tap and other fees that would come from planned subdivisions which would help the village in meeting payments on the wastewater treatment plant.
“The EPA’s mandate to bring down the village’s phosphorous levels will cost between $70,000 and $80,000,” said Renee VanWinkle, the village’s fiscal officer. In its mandate to the village, the EPA wants the current level of phosphorous of 2 parts per million to be reduced to 0.7 parts per million by August of 2012. This ruling is aimed at the effluent that the village’s wastewater treatment plant drains or outlets into the Big Darby Creek.
“The village can’t arbitrarily do a rate increase,” added VanWinkle.
Council moved to contract with the village’s engineering firm, Burgess & Niple, to do the rate study.
In other business:
• State Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R-83rd House District) visited council. Pelanda informed council that because of redistricting, she now represents all of Union and Marion counties. She also sits on the house’s local government committee.
“I want to be a frequent visitor to Plain City,” she said. “I am here to bring your concerns to the state house. I want to know what Plain City needs.”
She further indicated that she wants to see less state government regulation in how a municipality can spend state funding.
• Village Administrator Steve Hilbert reported that the village ice rink is open in Pastime Park.
• Plain City Chief of Police Jim Hill reported that he had attended the recent meeting of the Madison County Terrorism Task Force as well as the Union County 9-1-1 Advisory Board.
• Council member Kevin Vaughn reported that the Fire Board had approved the project to replace the roof on the Pleasant Valley Joint Fire District’s station at 650 W. Main St. in Plain City. PK Builders was chosen for the job.
The fire district had also sold the “old” Engine 262 to Columbus State Community College.
• Village Solicitor Eamon Costello indicated that as part of the final settlement on the property at 183 Jackson St. (the former site of the Fox Hollow Mobile Home Park), he has attached the village’s bill for water fees in the amount of $12,000 to the real estate tax bill.
• Council approved the filing of an application for a Safe Routes to School grant that would address the installation of sidewalks on both sides of West Avenue from Willow Bend Drive to the intersection of U.S. Route 42 and West Avenue.
The Plain City Village Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the village municipal building located at 213 S. Chillicothe St. A work session is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the municipal building.