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Ottawa Hills rejects widening of Secor Road

Village council votes against proposal 4-2; stretch will remain as-is

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    Mary Dalby speaks during an Ottawa Hills Village Council meeting about the Secor Road project held at the Hope Lutheran Church. Council voted against the proposal 4-2.

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    THE BLADE
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The stretch of Secor Road that bisects Ottawa Hills and Toledo’s Old Orchard neighborhood will remain as-is.

The long-debated proposal to widen the street from West Bancroft Street to Markway Road ended Monday when Ottawa Hills Village Council voted 4-2 not to move forward with the project.

Scores of people attended the meeting at the Hope Lutheran Church.

It would have to be a joint endeavor between Toledo and Ottawa Hills, and Monday’s vote means it cannot proceed.

Officials on both sides of the street — as well as many residents — agree the corridor is narrow and crash-prone, but the sticking point for project opponents is the dozen homes that would have been demolished to make room for a wider street and roundabouts at two main intersections.

Not only would the homes go, but they would take property tax revenues along with them. Officials estimated a loss of about $5,000 for the village and more than $50,000 to the school district.

Ottawa Hills resident Dana Dunbar, who started the community group Save Our Secor, cheered after the vote.

“I appreciate all of their thoughtfulness,” she said. “We want to see the road repaired, but the plan they put forth was just not conducive for a residential neighborhood.”

Jeff Gibbs, Katherine O’Connell, John Lewis, and Robert Reichert voted against the project. Rex Decker and Jack Straub voted in favor of moving the reconstruction forward.

Monday’s decision comes two weeks after council members voted to table their decision in favor of negotiating further with Toledo officials.

Toledo came back to the table with an option that would have softened the footprint by constructing a four-foot median instead of 10-foot, designating green space, and including a path for pedestrians and cyclists. 

But the homes would still be razed.

Ms. O’Connell and Mr. Gibbs said they wanted to vote with the will of their constituents, the majority of whom have been vocally opposed throughout the process.

“I don’t think that this is the best plan that we can come up with,” Mr. Gibbs said.

But not everyone was happy with the outcome.

Ottawa Hills resident Cheryl Silverman said driving on Secor Road frightens her. 

She said she supported its reconstruction to make the corridor safer.

“I am very disappointed with the council, I have to say, because I don’t think you’re protecting our community,” she said. “I am totally for the revamping of the road and utilizing the money that was given to us.”

Toledo officials estimated the total project, including buying homes through eminent domain if necessary, would cost about $11.3 million, but federal grants would have covered all but about $1.8 million of the expense. Officials from both sides agreed to split the remaining cost, with Toledo paying about $1.7 million and Ottawa Hills covering $98,000.

A disappointed Mr. Straub warned federal money might not be available to repair the street in the future, and neither Toledo nor Ottawa Hills has the money to repair Secor out-of-pocket.

“In my opinion, it’s truly a shame and we’re losing out,” he said.

Ms. O’Connell expressed a desire to continue working with Toledo officials, but Mr. Decker believes the effort is futile if there’s no grant money on the table to fund street improvements.

“I think it’s dead,” he said.

Contact Sarah Elms at: selms@theblade.com or 419-724-6103 or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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