Members of a group opposed to a multiuse path along state Route 161 between Linworth and Sawmill roads have provided a lengthy submission stating their views as part of the National Environmental Policy Act process.
The people who belong to Safety First 161 hope the NEPA rules, established in 1970, will lead to their side prevailing. That would mean any multi-use path would go on the south side of Route 161, as opposed to the north side, where many members are residents or property owners.
"As the city of Columbus continues the process for NEPA approval for the SR-161 shared-use path, it's important that the documentation be kept up-to-date," Safety First 161 leader Stan Apseloff wrote in the letter emailed to Marie Keister, who is with a public relations firm engaged by the city to oversee citizen involvement.
"There have been significant changes and developments along SR-161 since the beginning of the planning process for the shared-use path, and it is critical that these changes and developments are noted and appropriately considered when determining the proper location for the path.
"First, there are two new apartment complexes to consider, both on the south side of SR-161," Apseloff wrote. "The one opposite Federated Boulevard has already been built and is now advertising for renters, and the one just west of the railroad tracks has been approved by Columbus City Council."
"Our understanding is that these two apartment complexes will have a combined total of several hundred units that will accommodate more than 1,000 residents. What's important to note about these apartment complexes is that they are completely landlocked, i.e., they have access to no road except SR-161. This means that every one of these residents and all of their guests will need to use SR 161 in order to go anywhere."
Another complication Apseloff cited is a shopping mall proposed for the former site of Segna Volvo.
"Safety First 161 members have been informed that this mall will occupy most of the property, perhaps all it, from Linworth Road west to the railroad tracks," according to Apseloff. "Certainly this will be a destination for people living on both the north and south sides of SR-161. Quite possibly, this mall will result in a reduction in the number of crossings on the south side because of the consolidation of properties, and if so, that makes the south side an even better option for the shared-use path."
Safety First 161 members say they organized to oppose placing the path on the north side of the road due to safety concerns, and Apseloff's letter cites numerous ways in which a north location is more dangerous.
In a reply letter to Apseloff. Keister wrote that all comments about the proposed project "will indeed be documented and addressed in the document that will be prepared this fall, consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
"So far, we anticipate that will be completed by the end of this year, but we will keep you posted if the schedule changes, and alert you of any new information that may be posted online at http://publicservice.columbus.gov/ SR161SUP/."