Belpre council members hear concerns about streets

BELPRE – City council was told Monday of issues with city streets that could be fixed through parking allotment and traffic pattern changes.

“I think there are a lot of streets around Belpre that we need to look at for safety reasons,” said city code enforcement officer Leonard Wiggins.

Wiggins said there are streets where parking is allowed on both sides, but the space available for traffic is not wide enough for fire trucks or other safety vehicles.

“I’m afraid middle of the night, two o’clock in the morning, (there is a) structure fire with a family trapped inside and we cannot get a fire truck down the street because the available traffic lane isn’t wide enough for the fire truck,” said Wiggins, who is also a volunteer firefighter.

He cited that the city has ordinances on the books that list laws for parking on curbed streets, but there is nothing that states allowed items on uncurbed streets.

“There is nothing in black and white that states what is illegal,” Wiggins added. He said many uncurbed streets have large vehicles, unworking vehicles and other items illegal on curbed streets, parked on them.

“We also have issues with protruding items, including movable basketball hoops,” he said. “I think we need something in the books that makes it illegal to have things left on uncurbed streets.”

Karen Locke, a Belpre City Schools bus driver, agreed with Wiggins, president of the Belpre City Schools Board.

“I can attest that those portable basketball hoops are a menace; there is not a single bus in the district that does not have scrapes and damages from trying to not hit those things, which cannot be done,” Locke said. “It’s like trying to drive through an obstacle course driving through city streets.”

The Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewers committee of council will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the issues.

In other business:

* Council passed the second reading of the resolution to extend the city’s contract with the O’Neill Center for the management of the Belpre Senior Center.

The new contract will include that the money from renting the facility for parties and groups will go to the city and not the O’Neill Center as well as an increase in the fee paid to the O’Neill Center for its management is increased by $2,550 for a total of $43,350.

The third and final reading will be held during the Feb. 25 meeting.

* Council passed the second reading of a resolution to oppose Ohio House Bill 5, which allows the state to take over the collection of municipal income tax.

“There is a huge brouhaha between the municipalities and the state on this,” said city law director Tom Webster. “A constitutional challenge will likely be filed against this legislation if and when it passes.”