By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
An ordinance to make improvements to Holton Road, from Hoover Road to Buckeye Parkway, was unanimously approved by Grove City Council after a similar measure failed last month.
In early April, the council approved a measure to appropriate $4.2 million from the Pinnacle Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund and $4.2 million from the general fund to pay for improvements to Holton Road. This legislation was declared an emergency.
At a meeting in March, the council voted on legislation to set aside $8.4 million from the Pinnacle TIF fund to make road improvements. However, Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage suggested withdrawing that legislation to bring it back before council to break up the funding method and pull from two sources, the Pinnacle TIF and the general fund. At that March meeting, only three council members were present, Ted Berry, Christine Houk, and Mark Sigrist. Roby Schottke and Randy Holt were both out of town. Houk and Sigrist wanted to move forward with the vote at that time, but Berry wanted to wait. It ended with a 2-1 vote, which failed because a measure must be approved by a majority of council members, not a majority of council members present.
According to Houk, this project has been on the city’s radar since 2019. The road improvement project was on the mayor’s budget for 2023, but it was removed late last year during a finance committee meeting. Houk said at that time, some council members questioned if the project was necessary and if the city had taken advantage of OPWC (Ohio Public Works Commission) funding.
Houk said Holton Road services Buckeye Woods Elementary School, Jackson Middle School, and will service the new Pinnacle Park, which is not yet fully developed.
“It’s an important project to the area,” said Houk.
According to Cindi Fitzpatrick, director of public service for the city of Grove City, the Holton Road improvement project would widen the current two-lane road to include a center turn lane. There would be a shared-use path on one side of the road and a sidewalk on the other side. The project would add curbs, gutters, and a storm sewer system. It would include added street lighting and pedestrian amenities. It would also include a traffic signal at the Pinnacle Park Drive and Meadow Grove intersection.
Several residents spoke in favor of the road project during the meeting in March.
John Emmerich, who lives in that area, said he has seen a sharp increase in traffic on Holton Road with the addition of the schools and the hospital (Mount Carmel Grove City).
He said he was glad the project was put back in the budget.
“This is an improvement for everybody,” Emmerich said.
Richie Cohen-Smith is a cyclist and said there is currently not enough room on Holton Road for two cars and someone riding a bicycle. He said he has even had to bicycle off the roadway to avoid being hit.
“Holton Road is not one-inch wider than it was 50 years ago,” said Cohen-Smith. “This is needed for the safety of motorists and cyclists.”
James Daniels is also a cyclist and said there are a few streets in Grove City that he avoids. Holton Road is one of them. He said the roadway is too narrow and motorists drive too fast.
“As a cyclist, I appreciate any efforts the city is making to increase bicycle safety,” said Daniels.
The measure was approved by the council as an emergency to get the project moving.
According to Stephen Smith, the city’s law director, “This project is unique in that almost everything we need is in the current right-of-way, so we won’t be impacting people’s property that much.”