Council still working on utilities legislation

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Grove City Council continues to dig into underground utility line legislation.

At its Sept. 4 meeting, council removed a resolution from the agenda to adopt a policy. Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw said the resolution was removed because the actual wording needed "more teeth."

This resolution comes to council chambers after months of lobbying from Klemack-McGraw and Councilman Ted Berry. The legislation would make burying power lines a priority in new developments or in areas under construction, where utility lines would already be relocated. It addresses not only aesthetics, but also safety.

The proposed resolution states that installing utility lines on poles creates a safety hazard and jeopardizes the health and lives of motorists involved in collisions with the pole. The two council members have also talked with residents who are concerned for their safety while the power was out, knocked out by high winds, ice storms or lightning strikes.

The legislation would require the city administrator to provide design and cost estimates for any development or redevelopment of roadway, street, public facility and other public capital improvement projects. It also would give council flexibility in considering alternatives to burying the lines. The cost to install power lines underground varies, taking into consideration the length of the roadway and the voltage involved.

"The burying of utility lines on new and major reconstruction projects will cost additional dollars and it is expensive," Berry noted in earlier statements. "The safety and aesthetic benefits to our community well out weigh the cost."

"As I look down Hoover, White, Broadway, Stringtown, Orders, and the soon-to-be steel towers on the new 665, it makes me sick. The residents and businesses of this city deserve better," Berry remarked.

The proposed resolution to adopt an underground utilities policy is not a mandate. Council would just have to make a point to consider it. Council President Richard Lester said he thought the city already did that while considering new projects. Klemack-McGraw and Berry would like written legislation.

There is no word at this time as to when council will put the resolution back on the table.

In other news:

•A few Grove City parks got some attention at the council meeting. Council approved an ordinance to appropriate $24,000 from the recreation development fund for improvements at Fryer Park/Discovery Frontier. This money will be used to add security cameras at Discovery Frontier. It also includes drainage work in the parking area near the softball diamonds.

Council rejected an ordinance, with a 3-2 vote, to appropriate $40,400 from the recreation development fund for improvements to the Grove City Skate Park. The skate park opened in December 2006 and it is a popular spot in the area. The money was going to be used to add bleachers and a shade structure to the park. It would have also paid for the installation of security cameras, a drinking fountain and concrete curbing. Councilman Richard "Ike" Stage, Klemack-McGraw and Berry voted against the ordinance.

"This park has some of the same issues as our other parks," said Stage. "I would rather have a plan in place that would address all the parks."

Lester and Councilman Larry Corbin voted in favor of the improvements. Lester noted that he spoke with four adults who came from Cleveland just to check out the skate park.

"This park has amenities that are site specific and it has become a highly visited place in our city," Lester commented.

•Council passed an ordinance to move $20,000 from the general fund to purchase and install an emergency siren for the Jackpot and Stringtown roads area. The city will contract with the Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security to install the siren.

•As of Sept. 5, Columbus Street will be open to two-way traffic. There was a sewer project and road construction going on that tied up traffic. Director of Service Darryl Hughes said there is still work that needs to be done but traffic will be allowed through. He said all the repairs should be finished in time for the Arts in the Alley event Sept. 15-16. Residents attending the festivities can park at the old lumberyard site, behind city hall.

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