More talk ahead on Seventh and Pike

Some frustration was evident as members of Marietta City Council heard objections from local businessmen who believe the city should not move ahead with the proposed $3.2 million project to improve traffic and pedestrian safety at the Seventh, Pike and Greene streets intersection.

“Please do not ignore your voters-no citizen or business people want this,” said Brett Frye who operates a dental facility with his brother, John, at 1309 Greene St.

Brett Frye said the proposal to eliminate a left turn from Seventh Street onto Greene Street as part of the intersection project would impact businesses, schools, and even city employees who travel through that corridor.

The left turn issue has been a prickly one for some Norwood area residents who make that turn daily to access their homes and businesses and avoid traveling a longer route along Pike and Acme streets.

“We thought this proposal had been taken care of a month ago,” Frye said. “Greene Street is one of the only areas of business growth in Marietta, and any inconvenience or delay would be an impediment to our business.”

During a council streets and transportation committee meeting Tuesday, a poll of council members resulted in four who supported continuation of the project and three who opposed allowing the city engineer to proceed with the plans. Councilmen Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, Harley Noland, D-at large, and Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, said they would vote “no” on the issue, while council members Steve Thomas, D-3rd Ward, Michael Mullen, I-at large, Denver Abicht, D-at large, and Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward would support it.

“But it was not an official vote on the project-that will come later,” Vukovic noted Thursday. “And we obviously have a long way to go before this issue is over.”

Austin Rehl, another dentist with a new office facility at 319 Colegate Drive, was also concerned about a potential loss of business.

“These changes will have an impact on how business in this city grows,” he said. “And I think it’s worth taking some time to think about how this will affect folks before you move ahead.”

Dean Bobbitt, an oral surgeon, said he’s in the process of building an office next to the Frye clinic on Greene.

“I spent many months looking at viable locations for myself and my partner to open our business,” he said. “I think this plan would definitely be an inconvenience to our customers and is worthy of further consideration.”

Mark Alexander, a manager for the United Parcel Service facility on Industry Drive, off Greene Street, said the left turn from Seventh to Greene is the best option for his drivers as well as for others traveling in the Norwood area.

“This plan is just pushing more vehicles out Pike Street to the Acme intersection-the busiest intersection we have,” he said.

Abicht, who chairs the streets and transportation committee, noted there had been several public meetings as well as newspaper articles and radio announcements about the proposed intersection project which has been under consideration for more than two years now.

“But no one seems to have known about this until we took a (poll) vote this week,” he said. “I feel we were doing what’s best for our citizens, and I hope there are no organized politics involved as all of this (reaction) has come down in the last couple of days.”

Pressed by other council members, Abicht said he would schedule another public meeting on the issue in the next couple of weeks. But he did not set a specific date for that session during Thursday’s meeting.

Abicht did note that a streets and transportation committee meeting slated for next week would not be addressing the intersection.

Vukovic said sometimes it takes the public “a long time to catch on” to the importance of issues being considered by council.

“It’s something you can’t take personally,” he told Abicht. “Now that they know reality is going to hit, the public is speaking out.”

The poll vote on Tuesday was requested by city engineer Joe Tucker who wanted to know if the council members would approve moving forward with the final design phase intersection project.

The city has already spent about $300,000 on preliminary designs and studies.

City law director Paul Bertram III said he and Tucker had discussed moving ahead with the project earlier on Thursday.

“The design phase he wants to go into would cost another $300,000,” Bertram said. “But he doesn’t want to go there without support from citizens or council.”

He added the project has been in the works for five years, and a number of public meetings have been held but not very well attended.

“Now they’re paying attention,” Bertram said.