Just a little more paperwork and red tape and the Ohio 170 sidewalk from the village line to Poland High School will be a few months from becoming reality. For Poland Township Trustee Bob Lidle, it means the completion of a project he had been working on for a few years.
"It took me a long time to get this one," Lidle said. "It is happening because of the cooperation of my fellow trustees, Streetscapes, the Board of Education and the Poland Village Council."
Part of what inspired Lidle to go after the Federal Transportation Agency's Safe Routes to School grant was in watching the Poland cross country team as they ran down 170, which has no sidewalks. He felt there was a safety issue with the traffic and knew that a sidewalk would make it safer for the team. It would also provide a safe route for walkers, now that high school busing has been cut.
Lidle also said he had received a letter from retiring Dobbins Principal Cheryl Borovitcky. In the letter, she asked trustees to find a safe route for her students if they should have to evacuate the school. She said they would all have to walk on the road to get to the fire station in an emergency situation.
Lidle took all these ideas seriously and did the work to submit the application. The grant, provided by the federal government, is filtered through the Ohio Department of Transportation and is a 100 percent funded grant. Last June, Lidle said the township received the grant for $500,000, but there was still a lot of paperwork yet to be done before it could be placed for bid.
"We still have some procedures to flip through," he said.
The original plan would pick up the sidewalk in the village from between Stoner Avenue and Nesbitt Street. The sidewalk would be continued east toward Poland High School, but a savings on the project would be realized by jogging at Dobbins.
"If we went straight [along Ohio 170] in front of Dobbins, it would require the installation of drain pipes," Lidle said. "If we can make a jog at Dobbins onto school property, we wouldn't have to touch the open drains."
He said that jog would go 10 feet from the road and it would ensure the project stayed within the grant amount. At the present time, the school district has been brought into the picture to help with the final paperwork. Once that is done and accepted by ODOT, things will be lined up for the next step.
"I hope to be able to put it out to bid within the next two weeks to a month," Lidle said.
He was told that once the project began, it would take 30 to 60 days, depending on weather, to finish the job. If all goes well, the new sidewalk should be done in October.
While trustees are waiting for the green light, another project is already under way. The township's summer work crew is laying down the right amount of mulch at the Township Park playground to meet safety requirements.
"Soccer season is coming up soon and families with be coming to the park with younger brothers and sisters who like to play on the playground equipment while their older brother or sister practice," Lidle said. "At least we know they will be safe when it comes to falls."