Members of a group formed to oppose locating a multi-use path along West Dublin-Granville Road on the north side of the street were pleading their case before the Northwest Civic Association at last week's monthly meeting.
Then they all ran out of the room.
It wasn't in frustration that their message wasn't getting across; if anything, it appeared they were preaching to the choir.
Rather they were advised city officials, including department heads who have some influence over the final decision on the path, were at the Whetstone Community Center for a public meeting seeking citizen comment regarding a bond package that will be on the ballot in November.
"About 10 of us made it over there in time," said Stanford Apseloff, a West Dublin-Granville Road resident and member of Safety First 161.
The group recently sent a petition signed by 130 nearby residents and business owners to the city of Columbus, Mayor Michael B. Coleman and Ohio Department of Transportation officials asking that the path be shifted to the less developed south side of state Route 161 from Linworth to Sawmill roads.
"The people we spoke with listened attentively and they seemed more interested in learning what we had to say than arguing about anything," Apseloff said. "There wasn't any conflict whatsoever."
He added he and others in Safety First 161 are hoping to have follow-up meeting with some of the officials they spoke with last week at the community center in Clintonville.
"My gut tells me that the conversations we had at Whetstone were productive in that we were able to explain some things that I believe not everyone was aware of," Apseloff said.
"I feel that it was a good step."
Nevertheless, he and others who formed the organization are convinced city officials have pretty much made up their minds that the north side of West Dublin Granville Road is where the 2.2-mile multi-use path should go.
"We believe the north side is not safe," Apseloff said at the Northwest Civic Association session before he and the others rushed off.
Among a host of other factors that have Safety First 161 adherents convinced of this, he said, is that there are 38 turns off the road to the north side, compared with 32 to the south. Using a formula posted on the website of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Apseloff said a road is considered less than safe if there are eight crossings in that short a stretch.
"It's a recipe for disaster," Apseloff said. "It's just extremely dangerous."
City officials have said they believe a north side path would keep bicyclists and pedestrians from crossing the busy road to get to homes and businesses, and that creating safe crossings would add too much to the cost of the project, Apseloff said.
However, he added, there are just as many reasons for people to cross from the north side to the south, and the type of crossings installed could be far less expensive than the ones under consideration.
"The south side is simply easier," Apseloff said. "It's just the logical place for it to be."
"I've had some experience with the city on this already," NWCA Board President John Ehlers said.
He said he was roundly criticized at a meeting regarding the path at which he said a north side location was less safe than one on the south.
"Stan, I'm on your side on this," Ehlers told Apseloff.
Safety First 161 was asking the civic association's board to draft a letter to city council, ODOT and the Department of Public Service asking that the location of the path be changed, but before a decision could be made on that, the group's members hastened off to the bond meeting.
City officials have said there won't be a final decision on the path's location until late summer or early fall, according to Ehlers.