MACEDONIA: The efforts of small-business owners and Mayor Don Kuchta to get an entrance into The Crossings shopping area off state Route 8 appear to be going nowhere.
While The Crossings can be seen from Route 8, shoppers have to navigate a couple of turns and a couple of lights to get to the entrance off Aurora Road (state Route 82).
And every time an aging water main on Aurora Road breaks — as it has twice in recent years — the entrance is blocked to shoppers.
“When that happens, the shopping center has to shut down, more or less,” Kuchta said. If the water main ever has to be replaced, Kuchta is skeptical that the center would survive a possible yearlong infrastructure project.
A second entrance off Route 8 wouldn’t even have been considered before, but recent improvements on the southern end of Route 8 have eased congestion and changed traffic patterns through the city, and some folks believe the “limited access” designation that has stopped an entrance from going in has become obsolete.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is doing a traffic study and might be inclined to drop that designation, but what’s really stopping the project is the $750,000 price tag. A right-of-way fee that ODOT might waive could lower the cost to $600,000.
There are two options for paying for it: the city’s general fund, or 75 percent of property owners agreeing to an assessment.
There is widespread support among small-business owners and managers, but Kuchta said the city can’t get a response to inquiries made to corporate offices of the major chains in the center, which take up most of the land.
And there seems to be little support on City Council to pick up the tab.
The Crossings is in a joint economic development district with Northfield, but Macedonia Council Vice President Sylvia Hanneken said a conversation with Northfield officials indicated little interest in the proposal.
For her part, Hanneken said she would object to using city money to pay for the entrance. She said other road projects in the city should take higher priority.
Kuchta said if council would be more public in its support of the entrance and the business and safety issues involved, it might be enough to get the “big box” corporate offices to see the benefits and answer the city’s phone calls.
Dan Stanko, owner of the Chick-fil-A franchise in the center, has been advocating the project for three years. He even foot the bill for the traffic study that ODOT required.
“There is a cost for this project, but quite honestly there will be a much higher price to pay in the event of any type of emergency in the [shopping center],” Stanko said in an email to council members. “With only one main entrance off of Route 82, if anything of any significance was to happen on Route 82 or in The Crossings, it would be nearly impossible for emergency vehicles to get in or out of the Crossings.
“If nothing is done and done quickly, we will miss our window of opportunity provided by ODOT and may look back with serious regrets,” he wrote.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.