PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth City Council is expected to finally vote on arguably the most controversial ordinance this year Monday night. After an ordinance closing Third Street between Gay Street and Waller Street for the expansion of Shawnee State University was tabled, it was then given two readings. Now the ordinance is scheduled for a third reading, which actually means Council will be voting on the measure Monday night.
After a long debate in which SSU representatives made their presentation for the closing to City Council as well as committees within the city structure, the measure was given a second reading at the last City Council meeting.
Scioto County Development Director Todd Book, on behalf of his office and the Scioto County Commissioners, addressed Council and urged them to support the closing to allow for expansion of Shawnee State University.
“Some of the economic impact that the university has had on our community, include, in particular, $93 million in total annual economic impact on our community,” Book said. “$15 million in the local economy from Shawnee State University spending, $41 million impact from student spending, and $31.2 million impact from faculty and staff.”
Book also called attention to the employment of 877 people by 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. However, the plan has been endorsed by Scott Dutey, Superintendent of the Portsmouth City School District.
SSU Facilities Director Butch Kotcamp added the university has answered all of the questions that have been asked, and has pledged to assist in solving any future unexpected consequences.
First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson told Council all of his questions had been answered.
“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.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.