City to acquire 20 acres for park

The city of Marietta has been awarded a $126,169 Ohio Public Works Commission grant to purchase more than 20 acres of platted property for permanent green space that can be used for hiking and biking trails, according to an announcement by Mayor Joe Matthews during Thursday’s city council meeting.

The property, being purchased from Bob and Betty Boersma, is located east of Cisler Drive and lies between Gibbons Street and Oak Grove Cemetery.

Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, said the property purchase is a plus for the city.

“This will allow generations to enjoy these outdoor spaces within the city,” he said. “And I was surprised to learn the city now includes more than 1,000 acres of green space.”

Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, added that 15 miles of trails have been developed on that acreage.

And Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said although he’s been hesitant to purchase green space properties in the past, the effort is benefiting the city.

“I was a prime skeptic of buying green space at first,” he said. “But this is enhancing our city and allows the CVB (Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau) to promote Marietta as a destination for off-road bicycling.”

In other business, 10 pieces of new legislation was introduced, but no action could be taken because Councilmen Harley Noland, D-at large, and Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, could not attend Thursday’s meeting.

City law director Paul Bertram III explained that it requires six votes to suspend the rules and pass legislation on the first reading, and only five council members were present Thursday.

Thursday’s seven ordinances and one resolution are expected to be approved during a special council session scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the community building at Lookout Park.

Among the introduced legislation was an ordinance authorizing a project to replace 5.4 miles of city signage with retroreflective signs that include upper- and lower-case lettering. The upgrade is mandated by the federal government, and will cost around $84,000.

City engineer Joe Tucker has said the city may be able to secure 80 percent of that funding in a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation. The city would pay the remaining 20 percent.

Other new legislation included approval of a $1.6 million upgrade to the Acme, Pike and Jefferson streets intersection, which will include additional turning lanes and improved traffic signalization. Construction work is expected to begin early next year.

Council also began Thursday’s meeting by honoring four retiring employees.

Mayor Joe Matthews handed out plaques and certificates of appreciation, expressing the city’s thanks to 31-year employee Marvin Mosser who retired from the water and sewer department Dec. 31; 25-year employee Sharon Karcher who retired from the law director’s office Nov. 30; 21-year employee Lynn Vermaaten who retired as mayor’s secretary Dec. 31; and 15-year employee Ila Cox who retired from the water department Jan. 31.