Saturday, September 20, 2003

Park plan trumps road plan

Land donation blocks route of Ohio 63 extension in Monroe

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - A planned park in Monroe has knocked Butler County's preferred route for the proposed Ohio 63 extension off its wheels.

The parkland, which was donated to Monroe by a developer who's building a subdivision nearby, lies in the path of a proposed extension of Ohio 63 south of Ohio4.

Monroe officials said at a county commissioners' meeting Thursday that they want the park to stay there.

The park satisfies zoning requirements for the subdivision, said Jay Stewart, Monroe's development director. To remove parkland for a highway right-of-way would unravel a subdivision design that all parties supported and force the developer to redesign it, he said.

Monroe officials said they want to cooperate with the county and mentioned other possible routes for the 10-mile Ohio 63 extension.

But County Engineer Greg Wilkens said Butler already has invested $2 million on the project and he's concerned about spending much more money on a highway that's unlikely to be built.

"I can study six or seven different alignments," he said. "But each one has a price tag."

The state has reserved $27.7 million for the $93.3 million project, but Butler doesn't have the remaining $65.6 million.

The Ohio 63 extension would run from Salzman Road in Monroe to U.S. 127, north of Seven Mile.

Officials say the new road would relieve traffic congestion in the growing Monroe-Trenton area, spur economic development and serve Miller Brewing Co.'s facility and other industries.

Butler County needs to decide soon whether to move ahead with the project or kill it, Commissioner Mike Fox said.

"The state can't hold our money forever," he said.


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