Eaton asked to close rail crossings

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — The City of Eaton has been asked by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) to consider closing up to four rail crossings throughout the city. Council discussed this proposal during their council meeting on Monday, Oct. 15. At this time, they are not interested in moving forward with the request, but are afraid they will eventually be forced to seriously consider these closures.

Mayor Gary Wagner received a letter from Matthew R. Dietrich with the Ohio Rail Development Commission in March, addressing the diagnostic reviews they conducted at various grade crossings in Eaton. He explained, the purpose of a diagnostic review is to consider potential safety improvements at the crossings and make recommendations accordingly.

“Based on the diagnostic reviews, I would like to propose a number of improvements and some grade crossing closures. The closures will allow more advanced circuitry to be installed at the proved crossings and I believe we have some good alternative layouts to offset the inconvenience as a result of the closures. The warning devise improvements involve over $3.7 million in equipment and circuitry upgrades,” Dietrich wrote.

Proposed warning systems include: Frizzle Avenue, Franklin-Fairground Road, Main Street, High Street – adding a gate, Maple Street, Cherry Street, Barron Street, Walnut Street, and U.S. 35.

Improvements to existing warning systems include: Park Avenue and Decatur Street.

Potential crossing closures for discussion included: Alley, Monfort Street, McCabe Street, and St. Clair Street.

Dietrich added explanations for why those streets had been flagged for potential closure. He explained, there would be monetary benefits to closing crossings. For the closure of one crossing, NS will offer $15,000. For the closure of two crossings, NS will offer $40,000. There are monetary rewards to closing up to four crossings.

“There is a lot of consider in this proposal,” he wrote. “While for engineering reasons at least four closures are desired, fewer closures would also provide engineering benefits so please do not consider this an ‘all or nothing’ proposal. I ask you to discuss this proposal with council and city personnel based on today’s transportation needs and future city goals.”

Council did discuss the letter during their council meeting on Oct. 15.

“Staff will review this proposal and report back to council on how much has changed since this was discussed in the spring,” City Manager Brad Collins said.

Council member Joe Renner asked what authority ORDC has to enforce their desires. Collins answered, they will take their concerns to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the city “could be forced to do something.”

Mayor Wagner asked if the cost associated would be the city’s responsibility and Collins was not sure of the answer.

“The money they say they will put towards the project is not anywhere near what is needed, in my opinion,” Council member Craig Moormeier said.

Collins and his staff will be looking deeper into the issue and reporting back to council in the future.

Council approved the second reading of an ordinance amending the official zoning map of the City of Eaton, changing the zoning district classification of Park Out Lot 138, located at 301 Industrial Drive. The Planning Board voted to make a favorable recommendation on the application during their meeting on Sept. 11. The property is currently zoned C-1 as Vehicle Repair Service and will be zoned I-1 as a Vehicle Repair Service and Vehicle Impound Lot.

Council approved the second reading of an ordnance repealing its entirety existing Section 1107.05, entitled “Industrial Districts,” “Table 7: Uses in the Industrial District” of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Eaton and enacting Section 1107.05, entitled “Industrial Districts,” “Table 7: Uses in the Industrial District.” This adds Vehicle and Impound Lot to Section 1107.05, Table 7, Uses in Industrial Districts I-1 and I-2 as a conditional use.

Council approved the second reading of an ordinance adding “Vehicle Impoud Lot” to existing Section 1112.01(e), entitled “Conditional Uses” of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Eaton.

Council approved a resolution authorizing the transfer of General Revenue Funds to Special Revenue Funds. This resolution authorizes the Director of Finance to transfer $225,000 to the Public Safety Fund, $16,250 to the Recreation Fund, and $35,000 to the Swimming Pool Fund.

For the month of September, the City of Eaton Fire and EMS Division had a combined response of 222 calls; 143 EMS responses, including 20 second Medic responses; and 79 fire/rescue responses, including five general alarms. They received mutual aid two time and had an average of 7.43 calls per day for the month. There were five heroin overdose responses for the month.

The Eaton Fire/EMS held their annual Chicken BBQ Fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 7. According to Fire Chief Brian Smith, it was a success and sold out.

The next City of Eaton Regular Council Meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH