SYRACUSE — Syracuse Village Council chambers were packed for the second meeting in a row, as more than a dozen residents voiced opposition to continued construction of the village walking path.
The group asked for comment on a letter obtained by the group from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The letter, dated May 2 from the ODOT District 10 Deputy Director and addressed to the mayor, indicated ODOT would not allow construction of the walkway in close proximity to the Amberger house.
The government officials categorically stated they had not received said letter, but that they planned to add crosswalks, bypass the historic property, and end at Carroll Street.
Mayor Eric Cunningham further stated the issues raised in the letter were resolved in a May 23 meeting with ODOT administrator Alan Craig; Grants Administrator Fred Hoffman concurred with that assessment.
A press release provided to The Daily Sentinel by Hoffman states in part,
Due to objections from the State Historical Preservation Office, the route of the Syracuse walking path extension has been changed to avoid going in front of the Amberger house. SHPO has objected to the placing of any type of walkway on ODOT/Village right-of-way in front of the Amberger house, stating it would create an adverse effect on the historical house.
Syracuse Village Council wishes to provide walkway access to residents between Carroll Street and the HUD-subsidized apartments in order that they may have a walking route to the park, bank, post office, etc. as originally envisioned in the proposed walkway.
Council, after much thought and discussion, have determined that, in order to complete the path in a timely manner and in order to provide reasonable access to various parts of the village from the various apartments and residences below Carroll Street, the location will need to be changed beginning at Carroll Street.
The residents interpreted the ODOT letter to be a prohibition on any further construction, based on the letter’s wording of “Option 3 is to choose no-build and to not move forward with the project as currently envisioned.”
The mayor was adamant Phase 2 of the walking path would continue, but the discussion was rancorous.
The council unanimously passed a resolution specifying installation of crosswalks at Plum and Carrol Streets across State Route 124 and terminating the walkway at Carroll Street.
During his standard report, Hoffman reiterated that all the information contained in the letter was addressed in the May 23 meeting, but that ODOT would likely schedule a public hearing on the changes.
The changes to the initial plan for Phase 2 are as follows:
- The proposed walkway will end at Carroll Street
- A crosswalk is to be constructed from Carroll Street across State Route 124
- A “Share the Road” signs is to be installed on Carroll, Dusky, and Plum Streets with no construction taking place in this area.
- A crosswalk is to be installed at Plum Street across State Route 124
- The proposed walkway will begin at this location and continue to its original proposed termination point.
“Council realizes this change of location is not in the best interests of all residents, but it is necessary due to the objections of the State Historical Preservation Office in order to complete the project in a timely manner and provide a much-needed walking route from the corporation limit to various activities within the village for the many elderly and handicapped individuals in that area along with the many younger people who need safe routes to the park,” the release states.
This project is 100 percent funded with federal grant funds.
Michael Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.