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Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund grants

CAC gives unanimous nods to potential projects

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One by one, Clintonville Area Commission members last week reviewed proposals for spending nearly a half-million dollars on improvements in the community, and although they naturally offered lots of comments, all the upgrades were given a stamp of approval.

After five 9-0 votes at last week's meeting, it's now up to city officials to determine if all the projects recommended under the Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund grant program are feasible and fall within the budgeted amounts.

The projects, ranging from planting street trees to planted medians on sections of North High Street and Indianola Avenue to adding brick crosswalks at key intersections, total $475,000.

Commission members heard from representatives of the community groups that put together proposals for spending the money allocated to the neighborhood, part of $6 million in grants offered to each of the sectors of the city with an area commission, prior to taking the votes at the December meeting.

First up was Dylan Williams of the Sharon Heights Community Association. Following a series of meetings between members of the organization's development and environmental committees, Williams said the proposal for Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund money involves $30,000 to plant trees along North High Street from Morse Road north to the Worthington city limits. It's intended to not only beautify the area but also provide "traffic-calming," Williams said.

"I think this is long overdue," said District 3 representative James R. Blazer II.

This marks the first time Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund money has been spent north of Morse Road, District 9's D Searcy said, adding outdated boundaries previously had confined them to areas of Clintonville south of Morse.

A two-part proposal for a traffic study regarding North High Street and Indianola Avenue medians -- at a cost of $50,000, plus $250,000 more to build them, if feasible -- originated with CAC District 1 member Rob Wood and District 7's Jason Meek, along with United Crestview Area Neighbors. Former District 1 representative Mike McLaughlin, a member of the Crestview group, addressed the specific proposal for an Indianola Avenue median between Milford and Melrose avenues, which also came from the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce, Clintonville Inc. and Safer Streets for All.

He said the medians involve a multistep process "that could fall apart at any point," but all of which should serve to suppress traffic speed and improve the streetscape's appearance.

"To me, this is sort of a no-brainer," Searcy said, noting that often in the past, the urban grants paid only for studies, but this time, implementation dollars also are included.

A $25,000 request to pave what currently is a gravel path connecting Glen Echo Park with steps at the Indianola Avenue Bridge was represented by Jason V. Advani, also of United Crestview Area Neighbors. The work would involve paving with asphalt the existing 225-foot path, he said.

McLaughlin, president of the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum, discussed the next proposal: $10,000 to plant understory trees along streets within the arboretum's existing boundaries to cut down on stormwater runoff into the Olentangy River. The grant represents roughly a third of the $57,000 total estimated to complete the work, McLaughlin said.

Finally, Searcy addressed the requested funding for brick crosswalks at Morse Road and North High Street as well as the intersection of North High and Hollenback Road, estimated at $110,000. She expressed the hope that brick paths might one day grace every major intersection along North High Street.

Commission members also briefly considered three funding requests that did not make the cut in terms of recommendations from city officials. All originated with Meek of District 7.

One was for bike lanes along Indianola Avenue, which was deemed too costly; the second was for new sidewalks along Indianola Avenue and Cooke Road, found to be, in part, too expensive and already on the books for construction; and last, for mast-arm traffic signals at Henderson Road and North High, rejected as being for beautification only.

"Strike three," Meek joked.

At the suggestion of Wood, CAC members voted unanimously to urge city officials to consider adding bike paths along Indianola Avenue next year when the entire system undergoes a review.

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