A familiar topic — whether Defiance City Hall should initiate a long-term sidewalk program — was the subject of a city council committee meeting Tuesday night.
But while that question was not brought to a conclusive resolution, the streets and sidewalk committee was provided with a list of planned — and proposed — paving projects during the next two construction seasons.
The committee session consumed the majority of council’s meeting Tuesday when a water meter change-out program was discussed (see related story on page A3) and recommendations for city charter changes were presented (see related story this page).
Mayor Mike McCann’s administration noted that street paving projects are planned this year on Koerber Drive; Cleveland Avenue, from Greenler Road to near Ottawa Avenue; Greenler Road, between Cleveland and Jefferson avenues; the Hopkins Street bridge approaches and Davidson Street.
Also planned this year are chip/seal projects — which seal streets with liquid asphalt and crushed stone — on Mayo Drive, between Bassard and Glenwood drives; and Darbyshire Drive, from Glenwood Drive south approximately 580 feet.
A section of Main and Prospect streets will be used as a “test” location, according to McCann, to determine whether too much small stone used in the process will enter city catch basins. If not, he said, more chip/seal projects — which are cheaper than paving — will be proposed in 2020.
A “preliminary/proposed” list of 2020 paving projects also was presented to committee Tuesday, and includes: Carpenter Road, south of the railroad tracks to River Drive; Kiser Road, between South Clinton Street and Canal Road; Waterford Lane and Newport Cove; Emory Street; Chippewa Drive; Summit Street; Perry Street, between Stratton Avenue and First Street; First/Second streets, between Perry Street and Jackson Avenue; Fifth Street, between Clinton and Davidson streets; Fales Street; and Sessions Street, between North Clinton and Webster streets.
McCann explained that Carpenter Road, north of the railroad tracks, should include shoulder widening and might be part of Commerce Drive’s extension (next to the Johns Manville plant).
The 2020 list is subject to change.
While council did not offer objections to the above list, Ward 3 Councilman Dave Plant encouraged movement on a sidewalk maintenance or construction program. And At-large Councilman Joe Eureste suggested the creation of master plan for sidewalk improvements.
A similar discussion about sidewalk improvements also was held during a recent council meeting while sidewalks have been a topic for many years.
“... this has been an ongoing discussion for an extended period of time,” said Eureste of the sidewalk issue. “... it has to lead to something.”
Acknowledging that a master plan — perhaps created by an outside firm — would not be cheap, Eureste said “the thing comes down to you have to stop the discussion and have to basically do something in regards to an action item.”
He also floated the idea of having city forces undertake such a plan, just as they did with a streets inventory some years ago.
After the plan is created, Eureste suggested presenting something to voters as a ballot issue.
For his part, Plant indicated that a master list could help decide “where do we need sidewalks the most?” And he asked whose job it is to initiate a plan.
City Administrator Jeff Leonard said he does not favor hiring an outside firm to create a plan, as the city’s engineering department has the talent for the job.
But Finance Director John Lehner cautioned that a master list wouldn’t be the same as compiling one on the city’s streets. That list took awhile to put together, he indicated, while there is far less information on the condition and history of city sidewalks. Therefore, this would require observing every one of them.
In the end, McCann promised to have a discussion with City Engineer Melinda Warner about the sidewalk master plan idea.
Also Tuesday, the committee discussed alley maintenance.
The city does not have a maintenance program, but responds to repair requests individually on an as-needed basis, according to Waxler. Leonard noted the city’s focus is on streets where the needs are greater, although alley vacations are encouraged where possible.
Plant suggested starting a program of identifying alleys in the public interest and those in the interest of homeowners, and beginning the gradual vacation of those not needed.
Eureste asked if property owners might be provided with gravel to perform alley maintenance on their own. Law Director Sean O’Donnell wasn’t sure, noting that this could create a liability concern.