Wednesday, July 12, 2000

On-street parking loses out to $8 million grant in Lebanon

City Council isn't willing to give up Main St. money

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The rebuilding of Main Street will go forward despite objections from some residents.

        City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday night not to support residents' call to keep on-street parking after Ohio Department of Transportation officials said that would mean the loss of millions in federal and state dollars.

        “The price we pay is we give up a historic city street,” said Councilman Mark Flick, who voted along with Ron Pandorf to fight the state plan.

        But Councilman James Reinhard said: “I don't think it's going to destroy the historic character of Lebanon, and I'm not willing to give up that funding.”

        At issue is a 2-mile stretch of Main Street, which doubles as Ohio 63 on the west side of town and Ohio 123 on the east side. The road has become increasingly popular with truckers and others traveling between Interstates 71 and 75, residents say.

        Planned improvements include leveling a hump in the middle of the street, and installing sewer lines and under ground electrical lines.

        The state plans to remove parking along both sides to make room for a middle turn lane — and that's where residents had a problem. Some of the street's historic homes don't have driveways, and residents fear a wider street would encourage truck traffic that would destroy the neighborhood's residential atmosphere.

        They scoffed during Tuesday's council meeting when state officials said just 10 percent of Main's traffic is not local.

        “Your study is inaccurate. It is defective,” said Mariann Casimir, a Main Street resident. “This issue of our quality of life has got to precede what's good for the truck traffic and ODOT.”

        But the key question for city officials was: Will Lebanon lose $8 million for the Main Street project if the state doesn't get its way about removing on-street parking? The answer: yes.

        “If council decides it wants on-street parking, then there is no project,” said Rex Dickey, an ODOT production administrator, because there's no room for a parking lane and a turn lane.

        The turn lane, state officials said, is key because the city received the road money as a way to lessen congestion, and that's the only feasible way to do it.


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