Periodic discussions relative to a proposed Ackerman-Zollinger connector have precipitated the recent spread of misinformation about the motives behind the idea.

Periodic discussions relative to a proposed Ackerman-Zollinger connector have precipitated the recent spread of misinformation about the motives behind the idea.

We want to share with you some background and history, to clarify why the issue is before us and to outline the steps we believe are appropriate before any decision can be made.

Some community members, including present and past members of council, have brought the idea forward because they believe it would enhance connectivity within the community, and to and from destinations outside our borders. At the 2010 city council retreat, the connector was identified as an option meriting exploration.

This was to help assure the long-term viability of the redeveloped Kingsdale area and to support other economic development activities. OSU's planning efforts had also identified this potential connection within its west campus vision.

In September of that year, the city applied for federal grant funding coordinated through the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) for 2016 or beyond. Both OSU and the city of Columbus were made aware of this effort, but it was undertaken solely at the city's discretion.

At that time, the city stated that with limited resources available to dedicate to infrastructure projects, securing a funding source would have facilitated a review of the project's feasibility.

However, the grant application was unsuccessful and no further action was taken or direction given.

In November 2011, the issue was discussed at a meeting of council's infrastructure committee. Staff was asked what would be necessary to fully consider the idea and be eligible for grants.

Staff explained the city would need to study the issue to be eligible for the initial grant application cycle in May/June of 2012, with a final application due in September. The issue would need to be brought before council as a whole for discussion and subsequent direction.

In February, the city sent MORPC a letter with a twofold message: to endorse MORPC's current Metropolitan Transportation Plan update, which encompasses the entire central Ohio region; and to express the city's interest in further study of the proposed A-Z Connector to determine its validity as a long-term project.

With or without grant monies, we believe a detailed study of an Ackerman-Zollinger connector is necessary. This study should include: a costs/benefits analysis; initial designs for the roadway; environmental and neighborhood impacts; traffic projections for the entire corridor; any necessary reconfiguration of the existing sections of road; traffic speeds and pedestrian safety. Only then will we be in a position to make an informed decision.

City council is scheduled to discuss this issue, our options and the costs for funding a study this spring. Also, at a recent meet-and-greet with city council, OSU President Gordon Gee offered to schedule a presentation by university planners relative to OSU's Master Plan for the west campus.

Likewise, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is due to present its current Metropolitan Transportation Plan updatein early April.

Our city engineer, Tom Komlanc, is available to meet with residents to discuss and address residents' questions. Please call 583-5360 to request such a meeting.

We hope the exploration of this issue and subsequent discussions can be undertaken in an open and honest manner. We understand there are many who are worried about the potential impacts, and we will certainly give your concerns full consideration at the appropriate time.

Please be assured that no decision has been made to build a connector, nor will one be made without public notice and an opportunity to be part of the discussion.

The city has an online feedback form at www.uaoh.net, and we encourage all in the community to share your thoughts.

Frank Ciotola is mayor and Don Leach is vice mayor of Upper Arlington.