City wants people off new part of trail until it’s done

Completion of the third phase of Marietta’s River Trail will be celebrated early next month, but until then bicyclists and pedestrians should stay off the nearly 1-mile newest segment of the pathway, according to an announcement by the city administration during Thursday’s Marietta City Council meeting.

“The city will celebrate the grand opening of this latest phase of our beautiful River Trail with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Oct. 4, at 1 p.m.,” said Mayor Joe Matthews.

He said the trail segment opening would take place at the terminus of the trail’s second phase near the corner of Fourth and Ohio streets.

“But I would like to remind citizens that Phase 3 is still an active work site until the morning of Oct. 4,” Matthews said. “So I request that everyone remain away from the site until after the ribbon cutting to ensure safety and timely completion of the project.”

City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp noted the trail has no safety railing installed and the contractor still has equipment along the trail that will soon be used to install a top coat of asphalt.

The third phase extends the River Trail from Fourth and Ohio streets to Jefferson Street just north of the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The next phase, originally scheduled to be constructed in 2014, had to be delayed until 2015 after the city was not approved for an $871,166 Alternative Transportation Grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to help pay for the next trail extension.

In other business Thursday, council heard the first readings of three pieces of legislation that would change the zoning classification of the Memorial Health System’s Wayne Street, Selby Hospital, and Marietta Memorial Hospital campuses to “H-M” or Hospital-Medical Zoning Districts.

The new zoning designation was approved earlier this year by council with the understanding that the health system intended to apply for the zoning change at all three campuses. Health system officials say the special zoning would help expedite future building projects on the properties by eliminating the need to obtain council approval for every upgrade.

Also on Thursday, council heard the introduction of an ordinance authorizing $109,500 for Bennett & Williams Environmental Consultants of Westerville to perform studies of the city’s wellfields to develop source water protection legislation that would include penalties for violations of the current water protection plan.

The ordinance was originally slated for council approval Thursday, but Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, asked to have city water superintendent Jeff Kephart meet with council’s water, sewer and sanitation committee later this month to discuss potential concerns about the legislation.

Finally on Thursday the council members passed a resolution of appreciation for the 31-plus years of service from Marietta Police Officer Ralph Newell who retired last month.