Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
By William Kincaid
Celina council decides width of Main Street
  The width of Celina's Main Street will be 701/2 feet when it is reconstructed in 2010, as city council members passed final reading of the street width proposal on Monday night.
All council members voted yes, except Rick Bachelor, who was absent due to sickness, and Ed Jeffries, who opposed the measure but did not give a reason.
Currently, the width of the street is around 66 feet. It may fluctuate a few inches here or there, Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan said.
Although the pavement width from back-of-curb to back-of-curb is now set, council members still must decide whether to construct angled or parallel parking along Main Street.
The Ohio Department of Transportation needed a fixed width to continue planning the Main Street reconstruction project. It was a compromise to maintain as much sidewalk as possible while allowing for multiple parking options.
On Monday night, Jeffries claimed it would be illegal for council members to pass the proposal because it was never approved by the streets and alleys committee.
Councilman Bill Sell replied that committee members also are council members and a free-flowing discussion with much community involvement had already occurred.
"I don't know how much more democratic we could have been," Sell said.
Sell eventually made a motion to pass the measure as it stood, which Councilman June Scott seconded. The motion then passed, as Sell, Scott, Angie King, Myron Buxton and Jeff Larmore voted yes.
"I think it's a good compromise - it will cover all options," King said.
Jeffries fired back that it would not cover all options.
During a council meeting earlier this month, Bachelor recommended a street width of 71 feet. He said it would take into account the possibility of increased traffic or the need to switch to a four-lane street.
On Monday night, Bryan gave council members a letter from Brad Lightle, administrator of ODOT planning and programs for District Seven.
In regard to Bachelor's concern that the state may eventually force the city to convert to four lanes, Lightle said the following:
"At this time, ODOT District Seven has no long-range plan or goal to change the lane configuration on this section of U.S. 127 from its current two thru lanes with a center turn lane to four lanes of thru traffic. More importantly, it is ODOT District Seven's view that such a change would likely increase crashes, and we would strongly discourage such a change."
Therefore, Bryan said council members should not cast their vote based upon the possibility of changing to four lanes.
Sell asked Bryan if the width designation in consideration would secure the fate of a particular type of parking, whether angled or parallel.
Bryan replied that it would not, explaining council members could choose any type of parking they want with the 701/2-foot designation.
Larmore brought up that the city still must secure additional off-street parking to counter the loss of parking spaces when Main Street parking changes are made. The current 158 angled spaces on the eight blocks of Main Street would be reduced to 110 with parallel parking, 91 with 30 degree angled parking and 109 with 35 degree parking, Bryan said.
Larmore said it is important the city obtain the former Gibbons Medical Center and adjacent building, which if acquired and demolished could provide 30 more parking spaces.
"That's why I think it's really critical we get that done," he said.
Bryan said he is still in negotiations with Harbor Life Ministries, formerly known as Harbor House, to purchase the buildings.
King also asked if Mercer County commissioners intend to demolish the current jail - once the new facility is complete - and turn it into a public parking lot.
Bryan said to his knowledge, there has been no formal commitment by commissioners yet.
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