Pioneer Village Council Takes Action On Alley Vacation Issue

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The alley that runs between Norris Street and North Wyandot Street from North Avenue and Mulberry Street was the main topic of discussion at the October 10 meeting of the Pioneer Village Council. Clarification as to the status of the alley, and a fence blocking it, was requested by Mr. Jeff Hellard of 202 Norris Street.

“I just want to know what’s going on with the alley behind my house on Norris Street,” Mr. Hellard said. “It’s been closed off by a homeowner. All I ask is that it’s reopened, and to follow due process.” Mayor Ed Kidston referred to an earlier phone conversation that he had on the subject with Mr. Hellard, saying, “As I told you on the phone, our intent a year and a half ago was to close that alley. We just got busy with other projects, and we never went forward with it. As you know, on North Avenue, we curbed the alley shut, so there’s no entrance from that side. As I also said on the phone, I apologize that we had the homeowner do it. That was not proper procedure. When it came up about closing the alley, our guys were extremely busy at the time and she offered to do it, so I instructed the Administrator to do it, and forgive me, but that was probably not the right thing to do. That’s why she put the fence up. It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision…the alley was to be closed a year and a half ago. We just never went through the formal procedure to do it.”

As Council took up the discussion on the status of the alley, Mr. Hellard noted, “There are several issues. My garage caught fire about five years ago, and the alley was used by the fire department to put the fire out. You can’t get between the houses; there’s just not enough room. My garage butts up against the neighbor’s garage, and I butt up to Bonnie’s (Eckley at 204 Norris Street) house. Now there’s a spot between Bonnie and I that’s about 24 feet, but you’d have to drive between the houses if you’d want to get to my garage. It’s in the back. So is the neighbor’s…and so is Bonnie’s, actually. They (the Pioneer Fire Department) put that garage out immediately, and I thank them obviously, but had they had to get to it from the front, I don’t think that they’d have been as fast as what they were. I only lost the back portion, so obviously they did a great job.” It was mentioned that Ms. Eckley also wanted to have the alley, which has grown over with grass, remain open.

“I think that the right thing to do is open it,” said Mayor Kidston. “Open it back up, and have either the police go survey, or Al (Fiser, Pioneer Village Administrator) you go survey the neighbors. Find out exactly where they all stand on the question, bring that information back to us next month, and we’ll move one way or the other. But I think that it should be opened back up…tomorrow.” Council did not dissent to the suggestion of the Mayor, who said, “Again, I apologize. There’s no way that she should have closed it, but understand that it wasn’t her fault, because Al asked me the question. I’m not trying to make excuses. I was busy that day, the town people were busy…and when Al said that she offered to go close it herself, I said to let her go do it. I didn’t realize it was going to be such an issue. For it being closed prematurely, it’s all my fault…but we’ll get it opened back up tomorrow.”

In other matters to come before Council, Mayor Kidston reported that he had met with a member of the Park Board to discuss an idea for the construction of a permanent concession stand in the park. Mr. Fiser reported that the proposed renewal of the health insurance policy for village employees through Med Mutual was up for action on the agenda, and he noted that the 4.43 percent rate increase was more than acceptable. Council approved the renewal without dissent. Council also agreed to again partner with American Legion Post 307 in their annual Christmas program bringing Santa to the village.

Timothy Kays can be reached at tim@thevillagereporter.com

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