Agreements on 7th, Pike project

The city of Marietta won’t have to seize any property by eminent domain in order to proceed with this year’s $2.9 million Seventh, Pike and Greene streets intersection traffic and pedestrian safety upgrade project.

City engineer Joe Tucker told city council’s streets and transportation committee Tuesday that the owners of all six properties from which the city needed to purchase rights of way for the project have agreed to the final negotiated price.

“We’ve reached agreements for rights of way to all of those properties, and I’m very happy that no eminent domain or legal action was filed,” Tucker said.

The agreements came just in time, as the sale date for the intersection project is Thursday. Construction is scheduled to begin by May 19 and will continue through December of this year.

Tucker said the city will pay a total $195,639 for the rights of way. That’s $32,061 less than the amount city council had originally appropriated to cover the right of way costs.

“I’m requesting that the remaining monies be moved into the construction budget to provide a buffer for any potential change orders on the project,” Tucker said.

The six parcels and amounts to be paid for the rights of way include $12,420 to Apex True Value at 600 Greene St.; $73,910 to Captain D’s, 104 Pike St.; $898 to Food 4 Less, 110 S. Seventh St.; $50,000 to Marietta College, Seventh and Greene streets; $28,411 to Qdoba, Seventh and Pike streets; and $30,000 to Sheila’s Hair Shoppe and Tanning, 109 Pike St.

In other business Tuesday, Tucker provided the planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee with an update on the Lower Muskingum River Flood Inundation System.

The $540,000 project includes installation of two new high tech stream gauges that provide real time data on stream flow rates, water depth and other pertinent information to help warn communities of impending flood conditions.

One of the gauges is located on the Muskingum River in Beverly, and the other in the Ohio River at Sardis. Both were installed in 2012.

“This project came out of our Marietta flood mitigation study a few years ago, and one of the best things is that it will limit damage (by providing flood warnings),” Tucker said.

He said Marietta, Washington County and Morgan County are beneficiaries of the new system and all three have partnered to provide funding to install and keep the gauges maintained.

“And $400,000 of the project cost came from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District,” Tucker said. Among other partners in the project were the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Tucker said he’s also hopeful that Free Flow Power that has plans to install several small hydroelectric power facilities along the Muskingum River, as well as American Municipal Power that’s building hydro dams on the Ohio River, will join Marietta and Washington and Morgan counties in helping to finance the flood inundation system.

“The gauges are operating now, and anyone can go online to see what’s happening in the rivers in real time,” he said. “But my ultimate goal would be to link this system with a rapid-response notification system to notify residents of impending floods.”

Tucker said he’s exploring some options for a possible rapid-response project.

Also on Tuesday, members of the Marietta Area Community Tennis Association discussed the possibility of needed maintenance at the Lookout Park tennis courts with council’s lands, buildings and parks committee.

“Water has a tendency to pool on the courts, but a drain system could be installed at a very minimal cost,” said MACTA member Art Mendicino. “If (the city) has $50,000 to $60,000 fix the courts surface, we could fix the drains.”

Tucker said he and MACTA members had met recently with Jim Lathrop of Total Tennis, Inc., a Columbus-based firm that provides maintenance and repair services for the Marietta College tennis courts.

He said Lathrop submitted a proposal for a total repair and resurface of the courts at a cost of $54,600.

But Lathrop also submitted options for more basic reconditioning of the courts at costs of $9,969 or $11,649. But in both of those lower-cost options Lathrop said cracks sealed in those processes would reappear in the court surface after a time.

Before any work can be done on the court surface, the stormwater drainage system surrounding the courts has to be addressed, Tucker said, noting that the city engineering department and city crews could handle that part of the project.

“It’s the city’s responsibility to keep these facilities maintained,” said Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward. “The only question is what can we afford?”

He told the MACTA members that he would contact city auditor Sherri Hess to see if the city can come up with the money needed to have the court surface repairs done.

“We’ll see what we can come up with,” Vukovic said. “But the drainage issue needs to be addressed first.”