Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
Student asks council for biking path
  ST. MARYS - A Memorial High School senior would like to see a new hiking/bike path in the city.
Student Nick Durke asked city council members during a meeting Monday to consider adding a path along Celina Road to connect the bike paths along state Route 364 and Orchard Avenue. He said a path would help build the community, help businesses in that area and keep runners safe.
"Forgive me if I'm wrong, but in recent years the businesses on Celina Road have taken a major hit," he said. "They've been forgotten, and personally, I don't even think about businesses like Ace Hardware or even Dairy Queen unless I'm running right past them."
Durke said it would help businesses if residents and visitors are provided a safe method of non-car travel.
The track and cross country runner also said his teams use the paths every day.
"We've had numerous instances where cars have come inches from us," he said of running along Celina Road. "Nothing has happened yet, but I'm always afraid something will."
Durke feels expanding the bike paths would help build the community.
"If you were to increase the path on the lake, it would help more people in town get out and get into the community ... If this could happen, it could go a long way in improving the integrity of our town," he said.
Council members agreed connecting the paths would help the city. Council member Jim Harris asked interim safety service director Greg Foxhoven to meet with city engineer Craig Moeller to study the feasibility of a path in that area and figure estimates.
"We can't guarantee anything, but first we need to get the numbers to see if it's feasible," he said.
Durke said he understands some people may have a problem with the cost. Through research, he learned bike paths cost about $5-$10 per square foot. His proposed path would be between 1/2 and 3/4 mile, costing between $40,000 and $80,000, he said.
City law director Kraig Noble said officials already have been working on connecting the lake path and the tow path along the railroad. Harris suggested Moeller look at other alternate routes if a path wasn't possible on Celina Road.
Also on Monday, council members tabled an ordinance that changed the city's law regarding abandoned refrigerators and freezers. The original ordinance states no person shall abandon, discard or leave on his or her property a refrigerator or freezer or any other air-tight container in which a person could get trapped. If stored outdoors, the container must have the door removed.
A new ordinance would have amended the law to not include refrigerators or freezers that only close with a magnetic strip, which can be pushed open from the inside.
Council gave first reading to the ordinance earlier this month, but Harris had concerns that small children could get trapped.
"I just have reservations about it," he had said. "Little kids could get in this, and they wouldn't know where to push, and it's not that hard to just remove the door."
After discussing the issue further with Foxhoven, Harris recommended council table the ordinance and "let it die." Council agreed.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Flotilla of Grand Lake spoke with council members, explaining the guard is a civilian force of the Coast Guard and provides education and boat safety to boat users in the area.
Former commander Larry Baker said they are not law enforcement and have no arresting powers. Members teach boat safety, provide vessel examinations and provide safety patrols.
Baker said they have 21 members with five more in training, but they need more. Although most members are retired military (52 percent), military experience is not required. A member must be at least 17 years old, a U.S. citizen and pass a personal security investigation.
Anyone interested in joining can attend the open house at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the St. Marys Township fire house. For membership or other information, call 419-210-5302.
In other action, council passed under suspension of rules an emergency resolution authorizing a nuisance abatement assessment.
City workers cleaned an abandoned property in violation of the nuisance ordinance. Total cost incurred was $175. The cost will be assessed against the property owner.
"This is basically a property that was abandoned and had a lot of trash outside," Foxhoven said. "We cleaned it up, and we're just trying to recover our costs."
Council scheduled an electric committee meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the municipal building. The next regular meeting is 7 p.m. April 8 at the municipal building.
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