Marietta officials mull River Trail, sidewalk measures

MARIETTA – Speed and mode of transport on sidewalks and the River Trail could saddle one with a misdemeanor in Marietta in the future.

Three pieces of legislation were introduced in Marietta City Council’s regular meeting Thursday restricting the use of both the city’s River Trail and sidewalks.

* Ordinance 121: Would make it illegal to operate a golf cart, side by side motor vehicle, three-wheeler, four-wheeler, motorcycle, ATV, garden or lawn tractor upon the River Trail.

* Ordinance 122: Would make it illegal to move at speeds greater than 15 mph on the River Trail.

* Ordinance 123: Would make it illegal to operate a motorized bicycle on any sidewalk in the city or on the River Trail.

Violation of any of the measures would leave one guilty of a minor misdemeanor, with a maximum fine of $150.

The motivation for the ordinances, according to Streets Committee Chairwoman Kathy Downer, is safety.

“We will discuss these issues at the streets committee meeting Wednesday,” she noted, scheduling the next committee meeting for 4:15 p.m.

Downer has brought up her concerns in committee meetings over the last few weeks, noting more populated cities are seeing a rise in electric scooter use and motorized bicycles.

Rental of electric scooters via phone application has grown in cities like Los Angeles, Columbus, Charlotte and Raleigh.

The use of the scooters is provided for a fee paid to companies like Bird and Lime, scooter versions of ride-share services Uber and Lyft.

The scooters are located via smartphone, then picked up, rented for a limited time and left throughout the city as needed by consumers.

If the ordinances go a full three readings, votes on each would take place Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

These were only three of the ordinances introduced Thursday impacting the River Trail.

While passed through as an emergency suspending the second and third readings, Ordinance 117 notes the trail’s expansion to the Walmart/Lowe’s shopping center as one of the reasons for hasty approval by council of sewer pipe repairs and replacement.

A sinkhole has formed beneath East Eighth Street that Councilman Mike McCauley called a clear and present danger.

“The hole is getting bigger,” he said Thursday. “You could lose a dump truck in it.”

The sinkhole is just one of the issues to be resolved by the $10,000 emergency expense on a 36-inch sewer pipe installed in 1968.

“If we don’t get this project complete we’ll also not be able to work on our River Trail,” explained Councilman Steve Thomas. “That work has already begun.”

Then with Resolution 39, council accepted a donation of a bench swing to be added to the River Trail.

This will be the third bench swing to be installed along the path on Ohio Street, according to Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp.

“Mr. Tom Vannoy approached the administration about placing a bench in proximity to the gazebo on Ohio Street,” Hupp explained after the meeting. “It has special meaning to him in remembering his wife.”

ARMORY RENOVATION

Thursday council also authorized the creation of a new capital fund and gave permission for the city auditor to advance that fund $100,000.

Hupp explained that $100,000 advance is to be reimbursed by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission after the funds are spent on renovations in the gymnasium.

Council authorized the advance to come out of either the city’s general fund or capital improvements fund.

“This sets up our books as a pass-through so as we get bills we can pay them and then get reimbursed by the state,” added Councilman Mike Scales. “Then the money that comes back goes right back into the fund it was advanced from. This is for the other renovations, not the gym floor.”

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

* Council passed a resolution against Issue 1, on the Nov. 6 ballot across Ohio.

The ballot measure would amend the state constitution to reduce penalties for crimes of obtaining, possessing and using illegal drugs.

Council’s opposition of the ballot measure hinged on the creation of a treatment model that excludes incarceration as a potential intervention or sanction and motivation option when handling drug cases.

Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch explained to council that the measure “discards the best science on addiction recovery.”

City Law Director Paul Bertram added that amending the constitution in this manner would bypass the legislature of the state.

And Scales added that if Issue 1 passes, there would be added strain on city coffers without funding support from the state.

“It would be another unfunded mandate,” he explained. “We’re talking at an added $400,000 to our budget that we don’t have the money for.”

Downer was the only vote against the resolution Thursday.

* Council also authorized a renewal contract with Pavement Management Group to conduct continued analysis on city streets for a contract of $19,975.

* And Council authorized a $6,000 addition to the 2018 asphalt paving project for additional repairs in Harmar to Fort Harmar Drive and Gilman Avenue to address additional sinkholes. This raised the total to $533,052.24.

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