Sunday, May 28, 2000

Lebanon road plan assailed

Residents want say on Main Street

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Residents of Main Street are losing patience with the city over plans — in the works 30 years — to reconstruct their road.

        The work, scheduled to begin this summer, likely will not start until next year. The problem is the city, state and residents haven't settled on a plan for the $10 million reconstruction.

(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        “We feel as if we're spinning and nothing is coming to fruition,” said Rod Hilterbran, owner of a 19th-century building and a member of the Main Street Committee. “We want to work with the city, but it doesn't feel like they have a vision.”

        Main Street residents do have a vision: They see their old, restored houses along one of Lebanon's main drags as setting the tone for the city.

        Officials' plan is to add a middle turn lane through the residential areas at both ends of the 2-mile, mostly two-lane road. On-street parking would be removed, the hump in the road would be leveled and sidewalks, storm drainage and underground electric lines would be added.

        The state would pay for the road; the city would pay for everything else — about $3.5 million, City Manager James Patrick estimated.

        But residents object to losing their parking just to make it easier for semis to get through town. Ohio 63 follows Main through the west side of town and Ohio 123 follows it through the east side, making the street a popular cut-through for truckers traveling between Interstates 71 and 75.

        “If I were a trucker I'd do the same thing,” said resident Sue Hall. “But it's really destroying our town and our community.”

        Ms. Hall's Federal-style house is one of several likely to suffer damage if traffic is moved closer, according to an engineer she hired.

        “I've been restoring it, but I'm at the point now where I'm afraid to put any more money in it if the neighborhood's going to go down,” said Ms. Hall, who has owned the house for eight years.

        Councilman Mark Flick drew up an alternative plan — modeled on streets in Springboro and Montgomery — that would put parking on one side of the street, interspersed with islands of trees.

        But then, nothing. The city promised to set up meetings that would include residents and the state, but that has not happened.

        Residents are scheduled to go to court in June and July to get rulings on what they're owed for their rights of way.

        “It seems to me that before you acquire land, you tell residents what the plan is,” Mr. Hilterbran told City Council on Tuesday.

        Residents say they'd like to see a bypass to take some traffic off Main Street. The city's looking into it, but that's in early stages.


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