October 30, 2003
At its Oct. 20 meeting, Village Council agreed to install a new traffic light to improve village safety and a new parking area to help relieve congestion in downtown Yellow Springs.
The new light will be located at the intersection of U.S. 68, State Route 343 and Cemetery Street. “Having gone back and forth on that corner many times a day for 18 years, I see it as a scary situation,” said Council member Joan Horn, who is a former director of the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center. “When traffic is backed up on 343 in the fall and spring it can be a killer.”
Council member Mary Alexander op-posed the plan to install the signal at the intersection, saying that she believes people who run a red light will make the intersection more hazardous.
Council approved the signal 4–1. Council president Tony Arnett and members George Pitstick, Denise Swinger and Horn voted yes; Alexander voted no.
The new traffic signal was recommended in a recently completed safety study of U.S. 68, undertaken by TEC Engineering of Cincinnati.
The Village hopes to include the light in a signal upgrade project, funded by a $415,000 grant from the state and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC), which will replace already existing signals at Xenia Avenue and Corry Street, Limestone and South College Streets and Dayton and Walnut Streets. Funding has been received for a fourth signal as well, which was originally planned for Dayton and Corry, but the Village determined that traffic on that corner does not warrant a signal, and will use that funding for the new signal instead.
“The signal will be 100 percent paid for by the state,” Arnett said.
The new signals are expected to be installed in late 2004 or early 2005.
Several villagers who frequently ride bikes were also supportive of the new traffic signal.
“As a bike rider, I think that’s one of the most dangerous spots in the village,” said Keith Schlesinger. “Some means to slow traffic down is a good idea. There’s more speeding going on there than in other parts of the village.”
Council members expressed concern about speeding cars and the flow of traffic at the intersection of 343 and 68, especially during peak tourist seasons in the spring and fall, when cars coming from John Bryan State Park and the Glen often back up on 343.
Opposing the new signal was Mike Reichert, who lives at the northeast corner of 343 and 68. Reichert said that he believes a new signal will make the intersection more dangerous, since 343 and Cemetery Street are not lined up with each other. “It’s confusing enough now, and this could make it worse,” he said.
Council also approved a proposal to improve the Cemetery Street parking lot and connect it with the bikepath with a bike spur, a project proposed by the Northern Gateway/Bicycle Enhancement Committee, a subgroup of the Village Planning Commission. Several Council members said they supported the “Northern gateway” project because it could alleviate crowded parking conditions downtown on weekends.
Especially attractive to Council members is the opportunity to fund two-thirds of the project with an MVRPC grant, which is available now. Out of the total cost of about $350,000, the Village would pay $110,000.
“We’re looking at an opportunity if we do something now and pay only 30 percent versus 100 percent if we wait until later,” Denise Swinger said. Swinger also reported that Chamber of Commerce members support the project.
“I don’t see how we can pass it by,” Pitstick said.
Swinger and local resident Dimi Reber both suggested that the Village consider using parking lot materials that are more environmentally friendly than asphalt. “I’d like to raise a voice for further investigation on ecological alternatives,” Reber said.
Arnett expressed support for the project, which will probably not be completed for at least three years, if Council starts setting aside about $30,000 a year for the next three years to fund its share. Other Council members agreed and unanimously approved the project.
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In other Council business:
• Village Manager Rob Hillard presented Lisa Abel, director of corporate social responsibility for YSI Incorporated, with a check for $22,483, the difference between the $250,000 YSI gave the Village to extend a water line to the company’s neighbors and the project’s $227,516 cost.
YSI gave the funds to the Village about a year ago, as part of its investigation into groundwater contamination found on and around YSI’s Brannum Lane property. The company paid the Village to extend a water line to its neighbors, who had the option of receiving water from the Village, instead of drinking from private wells.
“We certainly appreciated your help in this project,” Hillard told Abel.
• Len Kramer, a member of the Village Mediation Program Steering Committees, gave a presentation on the program. He reported that the program averages about 40 cases a year. He said that VMP’s work consists of individual case management, mediation and community training in mediation techniques. Recently, Kramer said, VMP has received increased requests for teaching communitywide conflict resolution skills.
The Steering Committee requested $6,000 for 2004 an increase over the program’s 2003 budget of $4,900. The increase in funding is necessitated by more demands placed on the VMP case manager, Kramer said. However, he said, that requested amount is about one-third the previous level of Village support to the VMP, which was reduced this year during budget cuts.
Council members expressed support for the program. “It’s an essential service and I would hate to see it eliminated,” Horn said. She said that she’s especially impressed the program continued providing services even after its funds were significantly cut this year.