[ back ]
Pleas hit dead end with Wisner Road
Pleas hit dead end with Wisner Road
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Chardon Township Trustees heard pleas from some residents last week to reconsider their decision to vacate another stretch of Wisner Road, but officials said their hands are tied.
Wisner Road resident John McMillan and three others asked trustees to find another way to save the road the follows a stretch of the Chagrin River for public use.
"I'm not real happy about the road being further reduced from the original vacation," Mr. McMillan said. The closure will necessitate the construction of a turn-around at his property, he said.
Closing of the road just north of where trustees are now considering the vacation has resulted in a hang-out, he said, which he fears will move closer to his property.
Mr. McMillan said the road has served for decades as a scenic stroll for walkers and horseback riders, and that use is being threatened.
Trustee Michael Brown said trustees met in special session Jan. 7 with a representative of the Geauga County Engineer's Office to discuss what, if anything, could be done to preserve the road there. After those discussions, he said, they decided to ask Geauga County Commissioners to include the vacation with a pending vacation of a portion of the road a little farther north.
Mr. Brown said the idea of the original vacation came from county engineers for a section of roadway that washed out in the mid-1970s. To reconstruct the road was "beyond anyone's budget," he said.
Trustees face a similar situation with another stretch of Wisner Road. He said repair of a significant collapse of the road embankment is projected to cost in excess of $150,000. "I can't see spending that kind of money for something that could very well be a temporary fix."
Mr. Brown said the repairs might actually be $100,000 more than the estimate, which involves sinking beams 75 feet into the earth and installing a sheer wall.
He said resident Dennis Pietro, whose property borders the slipping road, has agreed to the vacation.
"How do we justify that to the rest of the residents of the township -- to maintain a road that doesn't serve anyone?" Mr. Brown asked.
Trustee Charles Strazinsky Jr. agreed, saying, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
He said, "This isn't just something we flipped a coin on."
Mr. McMillan asked whether trustees might be able to find the money through state funding.
Mr. Brown said the state usually considers a road's utility to the public before providing funding. He said the stretch of road only serves Mr. Pietro and land owned by Holden Arboretum. Even if it's saved, he said, it would only serve about another 600 feet of road before the washed-out section.
Mr. Strazinsky said, even if the state or federal government was willing to provide the money, he could not support it. "Just because you can do it, doesn't make it right." He said he would not be willing to accept outside money to keep the road open only another 600 feet.
Roger Gettig, director of horticulture and conservation for Holden Arboretum, said he could not speak for the arboretum its officials object to people continuing to use the road after the vacation. He doesn't anticipate any problems, he said, but those who wander from the road would be trespassing on Holden property. He said Holden is only interested in maintaining access to its property for hunting, research and forest management.
Mr. Brown said, if the vacation is approved, the road will become the property of adjoining landowners.
Mr. Pietro said his only concern with people walking or riding down the road is liability. He said it's likely that the river will continue to eat away at that stretch of roadway and that it eventually will collapse. He said people are "sue happy" these days, and he doesn't want to be liable if someone falls in the river.
Mr. Gettig said members of the East Branch Trail Riders club may be able to continue to use the vacated road as long as they maintain their trails.
Asked if the vacation would affect property values, Mr. Brown, who is a commercial real estate appraiser, said it might have the opposite effect. He said the reduced traffic and quieter atmosphere may command a "premium" price.
Mr. Pietro agreed, saying it is likely his property value will go up. "It's my little retreat," he said.
Mr. Brown said this is not the first time the township has dealt with the river's effects on the road. "I'm looking at what amounts to a dangerous situation," he said. "How much value do you get for maintaining that 600 feet of road? I don't see the feasibility of putting more than a couple hundred dollars into it. It's almost like a road to nowhere. It's never going to be a through road there."
[ back ]