Closing of street no easy decision

Butler Street between Fourth and Seventh sees about 8,000 cars per day. It’s situated between two major intersections and as such is a valubale cut-through street for local drivers.

Even before the coming traffic studies are completed, those who drive in Marietta frequently know the value of having this street open to traffic, particularly from those traveling from downtown to Norwood or vice versa. Common sense will tell you that closing it to traffic will contribute to more congestion at the Seventh, Pike and Greene and Seventh, Putnam and Glendale intersections nearby, particularly during heavy traffic times.

Marietta College wants to see that section of Butler vacated, much as Fifth Street–now the college’s pedestrian mall– was long ago. And while we see the need for Butler to remain open, the college’s request is not such an easy one to deny.

The college wants the street vacated in order to build a new student center and improved commons spaces. Marietta College is vital to our community and our city, not just as an employer but as a source of culture and diversity. We should all want the college to succeed and to grow.

However, there is an important piece missing to this puzzle that we feel needs to be found before a decision can be made.

We need to know what can be built and what progress can be made if the street isn’t vacated. Would this mean the college is completely stuck and no plans could go forward? Or there alternative locations and possibilities for growth and progress taht wouldn’t require this street closure? Maybe we can have the best of both worlds.

College officials say they don’t have specifc plans yet, just concepts. They want to work with the city regarding the possible street closure before approaching donors. But we think that before the city makes a decision, they need all the facts, all the hypotheticals and all the possibilities.

Clsoing the street would affect many residents and change routes for first responders. Let’s make sure there’s not a way to enhance the college and leave Butler open.