Assistant Building Administrator Doug Ditto and Building Administrator Amy Harpster from the Lima/Allen County Building Department in Lima outlined the departments personnel and proposed improvements service and certification to council on Monday. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
Assistant Building Administrator Doug Ditto and Building Administrator Amy Harpster from the Lima/Allen County Building Department in Lima outlined the departments personnel and proposed improvements service and certification to council on Monday. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
DELPHOS — The clock is ticking on the Fifth Street Project. Council will meet in special session at 7 p.m. on Monday to take a vote on supporting the proposal.

Council was reluctant to vote on Monday.

“I want to see how it affects future projects and carryover,” Councilman Scott Wiltsie said. “I need some clarity in that for myself.”

The project takes the thoroughfare from four lanes down to the a three-lane “road diet” with a bike lane on each side from State Street to Elida Road. There will be one lane of traffic in each direction with a center left-turn lane. The project also includes new curbs and gutters as well as sidewalks west of State Street to the Menke Addition, from Moening Street and out near the US 30 interchange.

The new configuration has drawn criticism from some citizens, with two, Bob Warniment and Dennis Wieging, who have spoken to council on the matter previously, speaking again Monday, relaying their concerns for safety with the bike route and farm equipment traffic.

Lakeview Farms Pant Manager Todd Parker spoke of his support for the project.

“We have quite a few people who bike to work and we’ve even had to install a bike rack,” Parker said. “I’m sure they would appreciate a safer way to get to work.”

Parker added that he hoped some better signage would also cut down on the number of semis coming to Lakeview missing their turn and then having to continue on Fifth Street to turn around.

Jim’s Restaurant owner Rick Burgei also asked for time before council to ask questions about the project.

“Thank you for you time and I will be quick. I just have three questions,” Burgei said. “The first is, we have delivery trucks that park on Fifth Street. They aren’t there long, maybe 5-10 minutes, and they are on their way. Is that going to be OK?”

Safety Service Director Shane Coleman assured him it would be.

“There’s no problem with that,” Coleman said. “Everyone will just go around.”

Burgei’s second question was if the new configuration would cause his customers to have a problem entering or exiting his parking lot.

“Actually,” Coleman said. “It will make it safer because they only have to worry about one lane of traffic,” Coleman said.

Burgei’s final questions was if he or others were going to lose property.

“All of the project is still in the city right-of-way as of now,” Coleman said. “We do still have some surveying to do but I don’t think there will be any significant changes.”

On Tuesday, Burgei said he was behind the project and was looking forward to seeing Fifth Street’s new look.

Presently, Fifth Street handles approximately 5,500-6,000 vehicles per day. Attributes for the possible lane change configuration included no significant time loss in travel vs. the present configuration, safer crossing from side streets with increased visibility, necessity to contend with less traffic lanes when crossing, and safer use of Fifth Street as a bike path. Fifth Street is slated to become part of a federal bike path from the Indiana Line to Canton, regardless if the lane change design in Delphos is adopted, or not. The buffer area will also allow pedestrians on the sidewalk a greater distance from the passing motorists.

Also included in the proposed change is the elimination of the traffic lights at Pierce Street and State Street. The State Street crossing would revert to a 4-way stop, which was the design for many years. The Pierce Street intersection would become a two-way stop to north and southbound traffic. Elimination of the stop lights is the suggestion of ODOT; any of these lights that the city would elect to keep would become the responsibility of the city for all maintenance and replacement as necessary.

The total cost of the project is $3.6 million with $2.1 million already allocated to the potential project through outside sources. The city is also pursuing additional funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission. Some of the money committed it contingent on the way the plan has been presented.

“We need to give ODOT and the engineers the go-ahead for this project,” Coleman added. “I need council’s support to move forward.”

Council heard from representatives from the Lima/Allen County Building Department. Building Administrator Amy Harpster outlined the departments personnel, with many coming on board in 2018, including herself. Harpster said that while the department had some issues in the past, an all-new staff was in place with several new additions, including Assistant Building Administrator Doug Ditto, Building Inspector Will Hedges and Account Clerk II Kim Muleski.

“We have increased our staff and many are getting duplicate certification so we have multiple people who can respond to builders,” Harpster said. “We can often have someone out the same day for inspections and we are looking at other options to speed up the process.”

Allen County Commissioners had presented the idea of a county-wide building permit system which would join with Miami County at the Jan. 21 meeting.

“We want to be more business-friendly and this will let everyone know we are open for business and we don’t want any more obstacles than necessary,” Allen County Commissioner Greg Sneary said last month. “We don’t want to be the police and walk around with a badge. We want to help solve problems and make the process as smooth as possible.”

A resolution showing the city’s support of a countywide building department was asked to be passed on emergency Monday, which failed with a no vote from Councilman Mark Clement. Councilman Andy Daley was also absent so the six votes needed were not received.

Clement also said he was worried that any potential satellite department organized by Miami and Allen counties would impact current building inspection services and called the matter a “pissing contest” between the county and city.

Council will hear the measure again on Feb. 25.

The 2019 Budget was heard on second reading with just under $25 million in appropriations. With no new amendments, the 2019 Budget closely mirrors the 2018 Budget.

The new Property Maintenance Code was heard by title only on second reading as well as an ordinance to hire a permanent code enforcement officer at $15 per hour not to exceed 25 hours per week.

Two housekeeping items were passed: an ordinance authorizing the mayor or safety service director to enter in to contracts for the of materials and commodities and the ordinance permitting the sale of obsolete or unfit city property online at www.GovDeals.com.