[ back ]
Numbers game slows Munn Road decision
Numbers game slows Munn Road decision
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Newbury Township Trustees withheld a decision last week on whether to turn a section of Munn Road over to the county.
Trustee Chairman David Snively announced at the beginning of a meeting that drew about 150 people that officials planned to wait until Ohio Sen. Timothy Grendell, R-Chester, could find a solution to the situation, which many Munn Road residents feel threatens their way of life.
However, Mr. Grendell was appointed by Gov. John Kasich to fill a vacancy in the Geauga County Probate-Juvenile Court and will assume his new role as judge by Sept. 20.
"This may well take him out of the picture," Mr. Snively said Monday.
Mr. Snively said Trustee Janice Blair will be contacting Mr. Grendell's office this week in an attempt to learn whether assistance could be found through another legislator or legislative staff in Columbus.
Mr. Snively said the hope is that trustees may be able to keep Munn Road, from Kinsman Road (Route 87) to Bell Street, as a township road or, at least, improve traffic conditions on the road to save it from a widening project.
Residents along Munn Road have opposed turning the road over to county, fearing a road widening will destroy century-old trees lining the road and destroy the historic character of one of the first settled areas in the township.
Mrs. Blair had taken the initiative to contact Mr. Grendell to see what support he may provide. She told the crowd last week that she hoped to find an alternative approach to turning the road over for widening.
Mrs. Blair said Mr. Grendell was eager to help, citing the natural beauty along Munn Road as ambiance he would work to save.
She said there were three options that Mr. Grendell agreed to explore. He would seek to remove truck traffic from the roadway, lower the 40 mph speed limit to 35 or seek state funding to provide the dollars needed for maintenance.
Mr. Snively said the financial end of the situation is one that weighs heavily on trustee's minds. Like many other townships, Newbury is seeing dwindling revenues, he said.
Within five years, Mr. Snively said, the township could be facing a $1.2 million bill for upgrading the road, which includes a widening of the berm. That cost is four times what the township spends in a single year in road maintenance.
Robert Phillips, Geauga County engineer, said trees 20 feet off the existing roadway could be cut down if the project were to proceed as now planned.
Mr. Snively said the township would have four options to meet that cost. The township could eliminate work on other roads, add a new road levy, create a special assessment for the approximately 70 homeowners on Munn Road or turn the road over to the county, he said.
Trustee William Skomrock said it is the safety of the road that keeps him awake at night. "Are you cringing every time a snowplow goes by as you drive that road or a semi from the industrial park?" Mr. Skomrock said.
He said he was not swayed either way, but realizes that the township has a "shoestring budget" to work with. "If the options don't work, we have to have a plan B," he said. "I don't know what that plan B is."
Residents who spoke at the meeting either questioned whether the road is unsafe as it exists now or expressed frustration at not seeing enforcement of the 40 mph speed limit.
Munn Road resident Jeff Brinkerhoff said statistics do not bear out the dangers that officials use to widen the road. He said from 2008 to 2010, Munn Road, from Bell Street to Kinsman Road, saw a total of 18 accidents, Of those, he said, 72 percent were at intersections.
"The width of the road has nothing to do with the accidents," Mr. Brinkerhoff said. "Let's get real. This false and misleading information -- it's got to stop."
About a half-dozen residents expressed frustration over being unable to get police to patrol the street. Munn Road resident Kathleen Reinker said she waited with her children for the school bus and was almost pulled into the roadway by the wake left by speeding trucks. She said she contacted the former Newbury Police Department, but was told patrols would only anger her neighbors. She said she was told by the Geauga County Sheriff's Office it was not their job and to try the Ohio Highway Patrol. She said that department also refused patrols.
"No one monitors the speed, so they fly through there," Mrs. Reinker said.
Mr. Snively said Monday he planned to speak with Sheriff Daniel McClelland to see what can be done, noting that the township will pay for patrols if necessary,
However, he said, he heard that patrols were beginning to make their presence known on the road and that speeders are now being issued tickets.
Mr. Snively said shortly after the meeting last week, Mrs. Blair discussed forming a committee to look at the issue. The committee will likely consist of township and county officials and at least three residents of Munn Road.
Mr. Snively said the issue comes down to a numbers game. The width of the road is dictated by a formula which looks at daily traffic, speed and the percentage of trucks.
He said officials will be looking to reduce those numbers in hope of keeping the road that residents want.
"We need to get the numbers down that drive the decision," he said.
[ back ]