More details were given about the proposed Pettisville sidewalk project during a Thursday, April 19 meeting at the Pettisville school.
County officials provided answers about maintenance and liability concerns, and touched on other areas.
While there was less outright opposition, there were some concerns about where the sidewalks will be located.
One man talked about concerns about the lack of sidewalks around the Pettisville School soccer field.
The field is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Dame and Cherry streets.
“We pick up our grandchildren there, and it scares me. The kids walk in the streets,” he said.
“Why not put the sidewalks where the concentrations of kids are?”
Amy Metz-Simon, Fulton County grants coordinator, said county officials looked at the issue, but said the soccer field is not eligible for sidewalks under the Safe Routes to School grant program because there is no school at the soccer field.
There were comments and concerns about a proposed sidewalk that would extend south from the Co. Rd. 19 (Main Street)-Co. Rd. D intersection. The sidewalk is planned for the west side of the road.
One woman said it’s “senseless to waste money to build sidewalks south of D on Co. Rd. 19. I don’t see nobody except a couple of joggers going out of town.”
She said only one family along that section of Co. Rd. 19 has children.
Metz-Simon pointed out in five to 10 years that could change, and there could be families with children living in the area.
Dean Genter, Fulton County commissioner, said consideration of sidewalks for Pettisville started as far back as eight years ago, in the 2004-05 time period, when there was an attempt to start a sidewalk program.
Public comments defeated the idea.
In 2006, the Ohio Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School grant program started. Federal funds are used for the program.
In 2009, the county applied for sidewalk funding for Pettisville, and $440,000 was granted.
The $440,000 does not include $46,000 in engineering costs, “enabling us to keep more for the project,” he said.
Metz-Simon said when she was Fayette village administrator, her community applied for Safe Routes To School funding.
Fayette has an ordinance making homeowners responsible for sidewalks. Because of that ordinance, Fayette was turned down for grant funds.
“Pettisville is lucky to have have nothing on the books,” she said.
In 2008, there was a survey of parents. There were 130 surveys distributed, with 117 returned.
“That shows your community cares,” she said.
Trees, Liability, Etc.
Metz-Simon said if there are trees in the way of a sidewalk, they will be removed. She noted there are places where tree roots have buckled sidewalks.
Plans for a tree replacement program are being considered, she said.
Grant funding will not only pay for the construction of a sidewalk, but also back-filling areas disturbed by construction and seeding of the areas.
A homeowner won’t be liable for the repair of sidewalks if they break during normal use. However, if a heavy truck is driven over a sidewalk by the homeowner or a contractor and the truck damages the sidewalk, it is the responsibility of the homeowner or contractor to repair the walk.
Ohio law requires the entity that maintains a street or highway outside of a city or village, to maintain sidewalks, including snow removal, trimming of trees, etc.
Because Pettisville has no local government, it is considered an unincorporated community. It is not a village.
Referring to the frequently asked-questions portion of the meeting agenda, liability for injuries depends on the cause of the injury.
If a person trips over a crack in the walk that was the responsibility of the county or township to maintain, the liability would belong to one of the two entities.
If the child of a homeowner leaves a roller skate on the sidewalk and a pedestrian trips and falls over it, then the liability would rest with the homeowner.
In cases where a sidewalk crosses a driveway, each case will be dealt with individually, but driveways are considered part of the project.
Five Feet Wide
The proposal calls for sidewalks five feet wide. Laurie Adams, project engineer with DGL Consulting, Maumee, said under the grant program sidewalks can be four feet wide, but every 200 feet, the sidewalks must flare to five feet, to allow two strollers or two wheelchairs to pass.
Adams also pointed out the steps on the south side of the new Pettisville School are not compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Also, the driveway on the southwest corner of the school building is too steep for wheelchairs.
That’s why new sidewalks are planned for almost all the way around the school building, she said.
Adams said she is unsure of the exact cost of the project, because not all of the engineering is complete.
“We’re trying not to do too much work too soon,” she said.
She said natural drainage must be considered, adding that sidewalks are sloped one-quarter inch per foot toward the roadway.
Adams also discussed new pedestrian crossing signs and new flashing school signs on Co. Rd. D, where a sidewalk crosses from the school to the events parking lot, and on Main Street.
“ODOT feels those are very important,” she said.
Not On Map
At a previous meeting, Thursday, April 5, an overhead photo showed additional sidewalks proposed for a second phase of funding.
One of the proposed sidewalks went from the school to the Pettisville Park.
The second-phase sidewalks were missing from the same photo presented at the April 19 meeting.
One woman asked Genter, “If we all, or the biggest share of us, don’t want sidewalks, will you do it anyway?”
Genter said public comments will be taken into consideration.
Public comments will be received until April 30. After that, the commissioners will make a decision about moving forward with the project.
“It sounds like you’re going to do it anyway,” the woman said.
“One thing we don’t want to do is turn back the money,” Genter said.–David Pugh