Lovers Lane’s no emergency

STEUBENVILLE – City Council will consider legislation concerning a Lovers Lane improvement project at three separate readings in future weeks instead of on an emergency basis as requested by City Engineer Michael Dolak.

The decision to delay a final vote until the March 4 council meeting was made Tuesday night after 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna cited the need for residential input on the proposed widening of the Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard intersection.

Dolak said the city has been approved for federal safety funding for the $2 million project to widen the intersection.

The initial step will be the advertising for professional engineering services for planning the project.

“We will receive $1 million from the federal Highway Safety Program. We are also working with the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission for an 80-20 split for a $1 million grant. That leaves the city’s share at $306,795, and I hope to receive an additional $150,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission to reduce our final cost to approximately $150,000. I asked for emergency legislation on this project to show the city’s strong interest in proceeding with the work,” Dolak explained to council members.

“I think the widening of this intersection is a good thing. But I think this should be heard at three separate readings so the people on Lovers Lane and near that intersection can talk about it,” Villamagna said.

Earlier during the council service committee meeting, Villamagna questioned why Lovers Lane wasn’t included on the 2014 city street resurfacing list.

“The previous council discussed a list of street improvements through 2015. The Lovers Lane improvement project was divided into several phases because of the cost of the reconstruction project and the funding needed. I will work with City Manager Tim Boland to see if paving contractors can do some preventive maintenance on the roadway at this point. We are continuing to plan for the construction of the Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Mall Drive roundabout for 2016. We are preparing for a public hearing on that project in March,” answered Dolak.

“I’m not sure if a roundabout is good for that intersection. The residents who will be affected there are opposed to a roundabout,” responded Villamagna.

“Lovers Lane needs to be reconstructed. We have a fairly high traffic count on Lovers Lane. We are looking if we can eke out a few more years while we go after federal and state funding for the project,” noted Boland.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs publicly said the proposed Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard widening project ordinance should have been considered on an emergency basis because the funding has been approved.

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf introduced the 2014 street paving project that will include portions of Braybarton Boulevard, Terri Avenue, Linda Way, Harvard Avenue, Parkdale Road, Princeton Road and Yale Place.

He introduced the non-emergency ordinance for the professional engineering services for the Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard project.

And, Metcalf also introduced emergency legislation authorizing a payment of $6,500 to former city employee Jamie Foust for settlement of a case filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A resolution declaring February as Black History Month was proposed by Suggs.

And, Councilman at large Kenny Davis introduced an ordinance to approve the purchase of replacement pages for the city’s codified ordinance book.

Council agreed to meet at 5 p.m. on Feb. 13 in open session to discuss goal setting with the city manager.

Boland offered the council members a 10-issue proposed working document listing fiscal health and sustainability, public health and safety, economic development, community development and public service and infrastructure improvement as talking points for the conversation. Also included on his talking point memorandum are utility services, community assets, employee development, parks and recreation and communications.

“I looked at our comprehensive plan and 2010 strategic plan when I prepared the working document,” said Boland.

According to Metcalf, “we need to help Tim know what we are looking at for the city in the future,”