An impromptu show of hands at Wednesday’s public meeting on the Lincoln and Blanchard street bike path project showed that out of more than 100 people who showed up, most were opposed to the project.
Frustrated with open house format of the meeting, the call for a show of hands came from the crowd, not public officials.
There was no speaker, no question-and-answer session, and public comment was not permitted beyond written comment forms being collected by the city. City officials and project engineers were available to answer questions one-on-one.
There were large maps on easels, and even a computer simulation of traffic flow on a three-lane Blanchard Street.
Council’s chambers were hot, and packed to standing-room-old capacity.
Findlay’s new mayor, Christina Muryn, was quick to calm one outburst.
“We’re not going to do this today. Please stop, before things get out of hand,” Muryn shouted over the unrest.
The yelling stopped, but people like Pat Gill, a 40-year resident of South Blanchard Street, were still angry. Gill thought there would be a vote on whether or not to proceed with the project Wednesday.
She said traffic, including emergency vehicles, has picked up on Blanchard Street since the Main Street improvements made it more difficult to drive through the downtown area. She said drivers tend to speed on Blanchard Street.
“It’s not safe for bike lanes,” she said.
She questioned how emergency vehicles would navigate the road once it is reduced to three lanes, despite the reassurance of city safety officials who attended Wednesday’s forum to answer questions. They said the new configuration will have no impact on response times.
On Lincoln Street, a shared-use path would replace the sidewalk on the north side of Lincoln Street from South Cory to Blanchard streets.
On Blanchard Street, the northbound and southbound curb lanes from Sixth Street to Center Street would be converted into 5-foot-wide bike lanes. This part of Blanchard Street would be reduced to a three-lane road for motorists: one northbound lane, one southbound lane and a center turn lane.
The new configuration would end at Center Street. The Courier has incorrectly reported that the lane reduction and bike paths would extend to Tiffin Avenue.
Construction is planned for the spring.
Findlay received a $1.25 million grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the bike paths, and an additional $1.5 million safety grant from ODOT to reconfigure Blanchard Street, with the goal of making it safer.
Gill wasn’t the only one asking for a vote Wednesday. Several people were calling for a ballot issue on the projects at Wednesday’s meeting.
Courier reporter Denise Grant will have more on Thursday.