Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Mariemont concerns delay sewer work again

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MARIEMONT - A stink is being raised here about an upcoming sewer project that will tear up the main drag on the village's west side for about two years.

The work, expected to start in June and last 25 months, means some of the 20 large, old, lace bark elm trees that form a lush canopy entrance into this community will be ripped out.

The center median about a mile along Wooster Pike will be torn up - but the road will remain open to motorists as a 5,800-foot-long sewer line is installed to replace some older ones that are leaking in nearby Dogwood Park.

Councilman Doug Adams objects to the overall plan, especially to replacing some of the 12-inch-wide trees with 3-inch-wide ones. He is calling for the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati to propose alternatives.

After he raised his objections late Monday at the Village Council meeting, a public meeting was scheduled for Saturday at 8:30 a.m. in council chambers.

"The medians are on the National Registry," Adams said. "If they tear up some of the trees, that will disturb the root system. You might as well tear out all the trees in the median."

Adams also on Monday refused to approve the start of an archaeological study for Indian artifacts that may be in the project area. Dogwood Park and Mariemont, in general, are rich in Indian artifacts from the days when Indians roamed the land, using the Miami Bluffs as a lookout.

If the study begins, Adams warned other council members, "you are letting the camel get his nose under the tent." The vote was delayed pending Saturday's meeting.

Bob Campbell, deputy director of the sewer district, was taken aback Tuesday by the stance of Adams. But Campbell said he would attend Saturday's meeting.

He noted, however, that the sewer district has worked for years to hammer out a compromise on the project with Mariemont. The current plan is the second design.

Originally, the project was slated to cut through the heavily wooded Dogwood Park. After Mariemont leaders protested, the sewer district altered its route to the current one.

The project is required under an agreement the sewer district has filed in federal court that outlines ways the district will end overflows of sewage into streets, streams and other public areas.

The deadline is July 31, 2006, so work must begin in June.

"We are a little frustrated," Campbell said. "We are getting down to the point where we might be able to work with them in some ways, but as far as a redesign or major change to the project, there just isn't enough time.''

Mariemont's solicitor, Edward McTigue, urged council to comply with the sewer district's plan.

"Eventually, they can force us to do what they want to do," he said.

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