MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE: 11/30/18
Public meetings are set for Dec. 12 at 2 and 7:00 p.m. at The Gathering Place at 127 N. 7th St. to learn and discuss Marietta College's proposal to the city to vacate parts of Butler Street.
The City of Marietta hired TEC Engineering, who is currently conducting a traffic-impact study, to evaluate the effects of the potential closure of a section of Butler Street.
The closure between 4th and 7th streets would accommodate improvement proposed by Marietta College.
City Councilwoman Kathy Downer said the meetings will allow for public input and allow the public to learn firsthand from the college and TEC.
"They will be given out all the facts. I hope to have Marietta College do a brief power point presentation of what they're going to do with Butler Street," she said, "and then Ed Williams from the TEC engineering firm will give us the information that we have to this date, to Dec. 12, on what the traffic impact study showed."
A timeline for the project and potential impacts to vehicle and pedestrian traffic and other traffic and safety issues will be discussed as well.
The traffic impact study to measure the possible effects of vacating Butler Street in Marietta is underway.
Marietta College submitted a request to Marietta City Council back in July to close off Butler Street from Fourth to Seventh Street, permanently. The closure is a part of the college's capital enhancement plans for the future.
The study will collect data on 13 intersections around and in the affected area. City officials say this study will help them make an informed decision.
"If there is an adverse impact, it will identify and quantify what's the magnitude of that impact," city engineer Joe Tucker said, "how will it decrease the level of service, how will it affect delay times and then also it will provide recommended counter measures on what could be done to mediate those adverse impacts."
The study is expected to be completed by the end of December.
City council will hold a public meeting on the proposal on December 12. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input.
ORIGINAL STORY 7/11/18
Marietta College is looking at some big capital improvements to the campus over the next five to ten years. That includes a proposal for the city to vacate Butler Street from Fourth to Seventh streets to the college.
College president Bill Ruud presented the college's campus enhancement plan at a city council streets and transportation committee hearing Wednesday at the Armory.
The college has proposed this in the past but has been unsuccessful. Ruud says the city has vacated a significant amount of land to the college over the past century for good reason.
"Fifth street, sixth street, alleys between sixth and seventh street as Marietta College grew," he said, "and developed and the city realized that we’re a pretty good economic engine.”
But several parties have concerns about this move.
"A 20-foot fire lane has to be maintained in those areas, access points too," Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham said.
"Citizens of Norwood neighborhood, which is the first ward, use butler street to get to the downtown instead of using Pike and Greene or using Putnam street," City Councilwoman Kathy Downer said. "You know Putnam Street is a nice brick street but you don’t want to be going fast in there and it already has a lot of traffic and so does Pike and Greene Street."
Rudd says he wants to make sure that everyone that needs access to the college, whether it be ADA needs or emergency services, will have it under this move.
“We need to let people know that we are thinking about putting in a facility that will have a multi-million dollar impact on the community of Marietta for today, for the next 50 years," Rudd added. "I think it’s a very mutually important kind of project. So it’s not like, we’re taking something away. We’re adding too."
A traffic study, paid for by the college, will take six to eight weeks to study what affect it will have on the surrounding intersections. City council says it will have several public hearings once the study is complete.