First reading for Third Street closure upcoming

March 22, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Portsmouth City Council is expected to give first reading to an ordinance closing Third Street from Gay Street to Waller Street at the request of Shawnee State University. Two weeks ago the City Planning Commission voted to recommend the closing to Portsmouth City Council, but it did not come without questions.

Since the move would transfer traffic flow from Third to Fourth Street, many of the same questions that have come up at similar presentations came up again at the Planning Commission meeting. Those questions dealt with the traffic backup problems projected to occur at the Social Security office on Fourth Street and the access to First Christian Church at the corner of Third and Gay streets.

SSU Facilities Director Butch Kotcamp said, if necessary, they could move the traffic light on Sinton Street to Fourth and Gay at the Social Security intersection.

Endorsements have been coming in since Council discussed the issue at their last session, none more important than that of Portsmouth City School District. In a letter to Kotcamp, PCSD Superintendent Scott Dutey said, After reviewing your letter and meeting with members of our traffic team regarding the closing of Third Street, we endorse the continued growth of Shawnee State UniversityWe support you in the closing of Third Street for your continued growth.

Portsmouth Mayor David Malone told the other members of the Planning Commission and City Council he has been in favor of the move since its inception.

Since 2008, 2009, Shawnee State has put forth their (Master) Plan, and it answered all the questions that many of us had concerning their request for the closure of Third Street. Malone referred to the moves as, a win-win situation for all of us.

Last week the Scioto County Commissioners signed a letter of support calling for the closure of Third Street.

The letter addressed to Portsmouth Mayor David Malone states, as friends of Shawnee State University, we are writing to ask you and members of City Council to support the closing of Third Street between Gay and Waller so that the university may grow and expand according to the master facilities plan they developed in concert with the city and community in 2007.

On top of all of the endorsements, SSU President Dr. Rita Rice Morris said, The Plan reflects our intentions to increase enrollment, provide enhanced living and learning opportunities for our students and tie our campus and campus community more closely to Portsmouth City Schools and Portsmouths downtown. Two years ago we decided to move ahead with the plan to close Third Street as we dealt with the need to accommodate an exploding enrollment, the need to provide a safer campus, the desire to have a cohesive campus environment, and the need to begin the process to site, plan for, and secure funds, for a new classroom/laboratory building.

While is opposition to the move during the statements by the public segment of Monday nights Council meeting is expected, it is also possible Council could suspend the rules calling for three readings, and vote on the closing Monday night.

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