Jeff Fryman, Archbold mayor, reached out to the Fulton County Commissioners and the German Township Trustees for help with Co. Rd. 24.
There was a special meeting of Archbold Village Council, German Township Trustees, and Fulton County Commissioners, Monday, Feb. 5, in council chambers.
Jeff Rupp, a commissioner, and Vaughn Bentz, a councilman, were absent due to illness.
Fryman told the group transportation needs still exist. The need is to get trucks to and from industries on the west side– Arrow Tru- Line, the Industrial Park, and ConAgra, he said.
“We either move forward with the St. Rt. 66 relocation or abandon the project,” he said.
“We wanted to include you in the discussion.”
Jim Wyse, former mayor, reviewed much of the background of the effort that eventually led to a plan to move St. Rt. 66 to Co. Rd. 24.
The proposed project, developed by consulting firm Tetra Tech and submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation, carries a $39 million price tag.
Archbold is the lead agency for the realignment project. Council tabled a decision on the project last summer. Now, they must ask ODOT for funding to continue planning or recommend stopping the project (the “no-build” option).
During the meeting, Kevin Morton, council president, said, “The (Archbold) Buckeye would like to dictate when we make that decision,” but added there are a lot of things that need to be discussed.
Jon Rupp, who is starting his second year as county commissioner, balked at the cost of the proposed project.
“I understand the need for it. I understand what you’re talking about and wanting to do. I think we were all caught off-guard by the cost,” he said.
Rupp noted he became commissioner in the middle of the discussions, but “my name is on the no-build letter… The sole reason was, it got out of hand. It was so many dollars to do it. And personally, I can’t see where seven roundabouts are going to help control that much. I didn’t like that part of it.”
He said for decades, there has been talk about a four-lane highway from St. Rt. 127 at the Michigan state line to Lima.
“This project here doesn’t fit that at all, if that’s the long term… so it seems like a miss to me,” Rupp said.
Fryman said ODOT studies found roundabouts are the safest way to control traffic at four-way intersections where two roads cross.
“That’s why they (ODOT) tends to do more of them,” he said.
Fryman also said he met with the former director of ODOT District 2, which covers Northwest Ohio.
State-administered federal dollars will be spent, Fryman said.
“Whether it was here, or it was in Toledo, no matter what, your tax dollars are spent, Jon. You know what I’m sayin’?” Fryman said.
“They either go to work for you here or you never see them.”
Fryman said the comment was made to village officials that the “work ethic and the way things are in Northwest Ohio are extremely different than they are the closer you get to Toledo, and the east side of Toledo.
“I would rather see that money spent in Northwest Ohio, where the work ethic is as strong as what it is.”
Fryman told Rupp and Bill Rufenacht, county commissioners, and Kenneth “Skip” Leupp, Joe Short, and Andy Brodbeck, German Township trustees, if Archbold does not move forward with the current project, “what’s the plan?”
Leupp said upgrading Co. Rd. 24 has “always been a regional project. This will benefit four counties. Why aren’t four counties here talking about it?”
Fryman said a commissioner from one county, whom he did not name, told him that county would never help Archbold “because NWOCA (Northwest Ohio Computer Association, along with the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center) was pulled into the community, and until (the other county) has their projects done, they are not interested in helping us.”
In 2008, a building was constructed for NwOESC in the Archbold Industrial Park. The deal came with several incentives from the village.
“One commissioner is still bent out of shape on that deal, and I don’t have any problem saying this publicly, because of that fact, he was not going to help us,” Fryman said.
“So you know what? That tells me there’s not a regional mindset in the commissioner offices. I’m not going to call anybody out, but that upset me.”
Rupp said, “My advice to you would be until you get past that, it’s not going to be that way. You’ve got to get past that.
“I’ve been on the commissioner board now for a year, and I read the articles where I got throwed under the bus, and I am not part of that. I am not part of that,” Rupp said.
Rupp said he agreed with Fryman, “but you have got to change your attitude. We all got to change our attitude if we’re going to get together.”
Fryman said the unnamed county commissioners weren’t at the meeting “because they don’t want to be.
“So what are we going to do about it?”
Kevin Morton, village council president, said, “As it sits right now, the only option that helps take care of our issues is to vote in favor and move forward with the project.
“What we’re asking is what other options are available? Give us a reason to vote no build.”
Fryman said no decision would be made at the meeting; that the commissioners and the trustees could discuss the issue among themselves.
“We want to give you the opportunity to give your two cents,” Fryman said.
“Me, I don’t have two cents to give you,” Brodbeck said, adding he would have to think about the issue.
Rufenacht asked several questions about traffic volumes, then said he disagreed with adding roundabouts to the road.
He said he had talked to truck drivers who said if roundabouts are added to Co. Rd. 24, “They will never use that road. Does that solve our problem if the truckers decide they’re not going to use that road?”
What’s The Issue?
Fryman called on Short, who said, “I haven’t heard specifically what the issue is. I just need to identify the problem.
“Is it about widening the roads? Is that the issue? Is it 66? Is it beefing up the road, is it the intersections?”
Fryman said, “I know you know… I know you know, ConAgra has needed alleviation from 250, 300 trucks a day. That’s been common knowledge. Anybody who has read the Buckeye in the last five years, that’s been common knowledge.”
“So it’s ConAgra?” Short said.
“It’s truck traffic, Joe!” Fryman said.
Maumee Valley Planning
Dennis Miller, director of Maumee Valley Planning Organization, suggested his organization could facilitate another meeting of the three groups, searching for common ground and interests.
Several at the meeting voiced agreement with that option.
No new meeting date was set.–David Pugh