City Council to revisit Third Street closure plan Monday

March 22, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Shawnee State University has delivered its official Vacation Description and Exhibit A for inclusion in City Council packets, clearing a request by the council as they prepare for a first reading on the proposed closing of Third Street between Gay Street and Waller Street at Monday night’s Portsmouth City Council meeting.

Portsmouth City Council tabled the ordinance because of the absence of a complete description of the specific land to be vacated. The ordinance read in several places - “for vacation of portions of certain streets and alleys, hereinafter set forth…”; “Whereas, all property owners of property abutting upon the portion of said streets…”; “for the vacation of portions of certain streets and alleys, hereinafter fully described (Exhibit A)…”

However the streets and alleys were not “hereinafter” listed in the ordinance, and there was no “Exhibit A.” Now that document (Exhibit A) has been prepared by Loren R. Purdom, a professional surveyor. That report contains a list of every lot, every parcel of land required to be vacated in order to turn that section of Third Street over to the university.

The move has been a controversial one as several citizens have repeatedly objected to the closing for a series of reasons, ranging from a possible traffic jam from the U.S. Grant Bridge to Fourth Street — which would become the new thoroughfare in that area — to problems with access to the Social Security office and First Christian Church, to danger to children going to and from schools in the Portsmouth City School District.

SSU Facilities Director Butch Kotcamp says the university has answered all of the questions that have been asked, and has pledged to assist in solving any future unexpected consequences.

One of those who has been vocal in wanting questions answered , First Ward Councilman Kevin Johnson, said at the last meeting of Council, he feels his questions had all been addressed.

“The situation is different for me than two years ago when I voted against this proposition. Two years ago Shawnee State had not met with members of Council, had not, with my knowledge, and this is good knowledge, met with the city schools, had not met with Social Security and had not met with a number of other people. Since then, they have done so. Since then they have addressed each and every of the questions I have provided them, they’ve provided an outline — very specific — on how they are going to appropriate $270,000 to address various issues. They have an agreement with the police and fire department, and that middle, which is now Third Street, will continue to be used by emergency services.”

The ordinance has received endorsements from the Scioto County Commissioners and Portsmouth City School District Superintendent Scott Dutey.

If the ordinance receives its first reading Monday, it may lead to a possible second reading at the next Council meeting making the earliest passage date the April 22 meeting.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com