7th, Pike project gets the green light

Thursday’s Marietta City Council meeting began with a pause in remembrance of Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor of Marietta and six fellow soldiers who were killed by a mortar shell explosion during a training exercise in Nevada Monday.

Mayor Joe Matthews requested a moment of silence and prayer for the families of the seven Marines.

The mayor also noted that city flags would not be lowered to half-staff in honor of Lance Cpl. Taylor until the soldier’s family requests it, according to the governor’s office.

In other business, with little fanfare or comment, council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city engineer to proceed with final design plans for the pedestrian and traffic safety upgrade to the Seventh, Green and Pike streets intersection.

“We need to keep this project moving forward so we don’t lose (state and federal) funding,” said Councilman Steve Thomas, D-3rd Ward, who asked for passage of the resolution on behalf of streets and transportation committee chairman Denver Abicht, D-at large.

Abicht had a health issue and could not attend Thursday’s meeting.

The intersection project became the source of much public debate due to an original design plan that would have eliminated a left turn from north Seventh Street onto Greene Street near the Speedway convenience store lot.

Last week officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation, that is funding the majority of the $2 million construction project, agreed to allow the left turn from Seventh to Greene, which enabled the project to move forward.

Also on Thursday, council approved a resolution authorizing development director Andy Coleman to apply for a $31,283 Ohio Department of Natural Resources Nature Works Grant that will be used for upgrades to the Lookout Park tennis courts.

In addition, council approved Professional Pool Management for management operations of the Marietta Aquatic Center for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, with an additional option to extend the contract through 2016.

Professional Pool Management’s bid for the 2013 season contract is $172,331.

Council also passed an ordinance creating 11 seasonal city labor positions under the Washington County Department of Jobs and Family Services Summer Youth Employment Program. The positions include two streets workers, seven public facilities workers, and two water department workers for the summer.

Also approved was one summer playground coordinator post and three assistant playground coordinator positions under the summer program.

“This provides a great opportunity for the youth of our community to obtain summer jobs, and it costs the city nothing as these positions are 100 percent funded by Jobs and Family Services,” said Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, who chairs the employee relations committee.

Other seasonal jobs were also approved for a laborer in the wastewater treatment department, four more labor positions in the public facilities department, and two more laborer posts in the streets department.

An ordinance authorizing a lease agreement with the Valley Gem Inc. for 0.19 acres of city-owned riverbank, currently occupied by the Muskingum River Boat Docks, was introduced but not acted upon Thursday.

Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, said a document pertaining to the agreement had to be signed first, and he would bring the legislation back for final approval during the next city council meeting at 7:30 p.m. April 4 in the community building at Lookout Park.