(Posted Feb. 6, 2024)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Mount Sterling village council members are expected to vote on Feb. 12 regarding road closures for community events slated for this year.
Council member Becky Martin, also a member of the Mount Sterling Chamber of Commerce, presented a list of Chamber events at council’s Jan. 22 meeting, asking for approval for temporary road closures for the events which take place on and around downtown streets.
Council member Joyce Phillips asked that council refer the request to the streets committee for additional thought before taking a vote.
“There have been a lot of things come up in regards to the street closures, not only to the mayor but to other council members within the community. We have expressed a concern before, but we’re bringing it up now because of the volume of complaints we’re getting from residents,” Phillips said.
Martin responded, “Every year, you have an issue with the events we’re putting on in the town. You express the views of a few complainers. There are hundreds of people who are out there enjoying the events. It brings commerce into the community. We follow all of the procedures (for road closures).”
Phillips said she isn’t opposed to the events and often attends them. Her concern, she said, is with feedback she has received, especially regarding traffic issues with the events that last a full day or multiple days.
“All I’m asking is that we take this to a streets meeting for further discussion. This is what I promised the residents,” Phillips said.
The streets committee met on Jan. 26 and discussed the road closures.
“We got our partners from ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) and the (Madison County) Sheriff’s Office around the table with us,” said Mayor Andy Drake. “We discussed how to handle the all-day and multi-day events in particular.”
Drake explained that even with signage in place, the village has had problems with people going against the temporary traffic patterns and cutting down side streets and alleys during special events held downtown.
Working with ODOT and the Sheriff’s Office, the village has been able to mitigate some of these problems in the last couple of years, he said, but this year the village has the added challenge of increased traffic due to construction on I-71 and solar farm construction north and south of town.
Some solutions came out of the Jan. 26 streets committee meeting, Drake said. ODOT plans to help the village with signage and update Google maps and its OHGO app to show any road closures in real time, thereby facilitating rerouting instructions for navigation systems. This should help with traffic in general, as well as during special events.
Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office plans to increase the number of deputies on duty during the longer events, utilizing auxiliary deputies.
“Deputy presence is key to controlling traffic and making sure it’s flowing the way it should,” Drake said.
The 2024 events that require temporary road closures are as follows:
• Summer Jam. This Chamber event is set for June 13-15. Typically, roads are closed two days prior to the start of the event and reopened the morning after the event once vendors have packed up and the area is cleaned.
• Independence Day Parade. This Chamber event is set for the morning of July 4. Typically, this requires a brief, rolling road closure as the parade makes its way through town.
• Downtown Street Market and Car Show. This Chamber event is set for Sept. 21. Roads are typically closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day.
• Veterans Day Ceremony. American Legion Post 417 will host a ceremony the morning of Nov. 11 at the Veterans Memorial in downtown Mount Sterling, requiring roughly a two-hour road closure.
• Christmas in the Village. This half-day Chamber event is set for 4-8 p.m. Dec. 7. Typically, roads are closed from noon to approximately 9 p.m. for this event.
Mount Sterling village council’s Feb. 12 meeting is set for 7 p.m. in council chambers at town hall, 1 S. London St.