When news broke that Co. Rd. 24 could potentially become St. Rt. 66, not everyone was happy.
There have been off-therecord comments saying some worry Co. Rd. 24 will become Archbold’s version of Wauseon’s Shoop Avenue.
Shoop Avenue is lined with businesses. Fast food franchises, a major supermarket, car lots, retail stores… all are located on Shoop Avenue.
Since Shoop Avenue is also St. Rt. 108 through Wauseon, local motorists blend in with highway traffic.
Making left turns into and from Shoop Avenue businesses can take a lot of time before there’s a break in the line of cars and trucks.
Contrast that with downtown Wauseon.
Retail businesses remain downtown, but Joe Kolb, a long-time downtown retailer, said, “It’s pretty lonely down here.
“Fight that (relocating St. Rt. 66) tooth and nail.
“You’ll get a Wal-Mart or you’ll get something out there. Then bye-bye downtown,” Kolb said.
Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator, said development of Co. Rd. 24 can be controlled, but it’s up to future leaders to do it.
First, Howell said, the Fulton County master plan discourages development outside of urban development areas, which are roughly limited to the boundaries of the communities.
“Development needs to happen in close proximity to urban development, where services (such as municipal water and wastewater) are in close proximity,” Howell said.
Almost any retail development on Co. Rd. 24 “would not be viewed favorably,” based on the master plan.
Archbold could control development on Co. Rd. 24 by denying services to any development. It’s virtually impossible to develop a business without those services, Howell said.
Randy Ruffer, president of the German Township Trustees, said with the exception of the area between Co. Rd. D and the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing, the land along Co. Rd. 24 is zoned agricultural.
But Ruffer said zoning can be changed, and Howell agreed the county master plan could be altered.
Further, Archbold municipal services could be extended to Co. Rd. 24.
“It’s up to future councils and planning commissions as to how that will proceed. But there’s no need to ever see retail development out there,” Howell said.
North Baltimore, in southern Wood County, had a similar experience, Howell said.
St. Rt. 18, a major truck route, went through that community for years.
Recently a new intermodal terminal was established on the west side of North Baltimore. At the terminal, shipping containers are moved from railroad cars to trucks, and vice versa.
To accommodate the terminal, St. Rt. 18 was rerouted west of the community.
Old St. Rt. 18 became “Business Rt. 18.”
Howell said North Baltimore’s village administrator said after several months, none of the downtown business owners reported seeing their business decrease as a result of the change in road designations.
That, Howell said, is probably what will happen to St. Rt. 66 in Archbold if the Co. Rd. 24 project moves forward.
Shoop Avenue History
Jerry Matheny, Wauseon mayor from 1992 to 2003, said St. Rt. 108 used to be routed through downtown Wauseon.
Prior to the 1970s, Shoop Avenue was a township road.
In the early 1970s, the alignment of St. Rt. 108 was changed to Shoop Avenue.
Matheny said he was the first business owner to move from downtown Wauseon to Shoop Avenue. He had a floor covering business downtown, but semi trucks making deliveries had diffi- culty parking and unloading to his downtown store.
In 1968, Matheny moved his business to Shoop Avenue.
He was followed by Roger Miller Ford and St. Casper’s Catholic Church.
Then the Wauseon Plaza, a strip shopping center, was built on Shoop Avenue, and a downtown pharmacy moved.
“We were not accepted kindly by the people downtown,” said Matheny. “They were very unhappy with us that we pulled out.
“We lost some business. People were mad that we moved. They said, ‘you’re deserting the town.’”
Jerry Dehnbostel, Wauseon mayor from 2003 to 2011, said the development of Shoop Avenue was probably good for Wauseon’s local economy, but not good for local businesses.
Matheny said in the early 1990s, local highways were being discussed in connection with the location of the Archbold-Fayette interchange on the Ohio Turnpike.
One topic was turning Co. Rd. 24 into St. Rt. 66.
“I told Archbold then to be a little leery of bypassing Archbold, because you will draw people away from downtown,” said Matheny.
“Look at our downtown.”