PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth City Council moved one step closer to voting on whether or not to close Third Street between Gay and Waller Streets, to accommodate the growth plan at Shawnee State University. At Monday night’s Council meeting, members voted unanimously to give the ordinance a first reading.
The vacation of Third Street again drew the largest discussion, with several members of the public speaking on the issue. Five people spoke against the issue, while three people spoke in favor of the closing. After the public had spoken, SSU facilities director Butch Kotcamp said the university has been pleased to share with Council and the public, the specifics of the university’s progress plan.
“We’ve had the opportunity to talk about our plan and it’s important to know that our plan goes back to when this university was formed,” Kotcamp said. “There has been three versions of the master plan, and we’ve worked with the city, worked with the community, had public meetings. And we’ve asked for as much input as we can get on this plan, and we worked very hard at that.”
Kotcamp said the master plan contains a goal of an enrollment of 5,300, and currently stands at 4,600.
“When I moved here 11 years ago, I attended two economic development forums at Shawnee State and was able to see their plans for the future,” First Ward Councilman Kevin Johnson said. “Third Street was on it (plan) then. This is nothing new. We’ve known about this for a long time. The issue has always been how to do it, how best to represent the city, our residents and how to protect them.”
Johnson said he would be watching the situation as it concerns questions posed by citizens.
“Just because we will have made a decision perhaps that we will make tonight to move forward, doesn’t mean that we give up any obligation to follow through,” Johnson said.
In other action, Council voted not to amend an ordinance that would include Council members having to pay the same health insurance premium share as the city’s F.O.P. The ordinance started out with the wording - “Whereas these sections are being revised so that members of City Council shall pay the same share of the cost of premiums as set forth in the current and future negotiated AFSCME contract agreement.”
City Auditor Trent Williams suggested, if there was going to be such an ordinance, that it be based on the FOP contract instead. Johnson asked it to be amended, but that amendment failed.
Council passed an ordinance authorizing Portsmouth Mayor David Malone to purchase real estate located on Havecotte Road for $30,000 to be used for the purpose of constructing a storm water detention structure; authorized the acceptance of grant funds for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Office of Criminal Justice Services funding, under the Justice Assistance Grant and establishing a dedicated sub account in fund 217 for the grant to specifically be used to purchase two police cruisers; an ordinance transferring $53,333.33 from fund 225 Law Enforcement Trust to fund 217 cruisers OCJS, appropriate the same, and upon completion of the grant, allow for the reimbursement amount of $40,000 to be transferred back to fund 225 from fund 217.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.