By Sam Wildow
TROY — Crosswalks around the public square at the roundabout at Main and Market streets were a point of concern during Monday night’s Troy City Council meeting as residents talked about not being able to see pedestrians behind the planters in the downtown crosswalks.
Ashley Lutz, of Troy, who is also married to Council President William Lutz, said she previously did not have any issues with the planters and the setup of the crosswalks downtown, but she said that changed recently when a pedestrian was “camouflaged” behind the planters when she was driving one evening.
“My opinion of the current setup of our crosswalks downtown changed in a hurry last Tuesday evening around 6:30 p.m. when I nearly hit a pedestrian with my car,” Ashley Lutz said. She recounted how traffic was heavy, she was looking for a parking spot, and her two kids were also in the car with her. The truck in front of her went through the crosswalk, so she assumed there were no pedestrians in the crosswalk, when she said there was a pedestrian at the halfway point whom Ashley Lutz could not see at first due to the “five and half foot vine and plants.”
“She appeared out of nowhere,” Ashley Lutz said. “I was in shock. I nearly hit her.”
She said she had concerns for people with small cars who could not see over or around the plants in the planters, asking for the vines, as well as the planters, to be removed.
“These concrete planters have to go,” Ashley Lutz said. She suggested adding the signs with flashing lights to indicate when there is a pedestrian.
Lisa Brown, another Troy resident, also spoke about her concerns regarding small children being concealed behind the planters.
“The height of the planters are above the heads of all of my children,” said Brown, who said she has four children between the ages of 6 and 11 years old.
Another resident also spoke about going through the crosswalk with her 92-year-old father, who was in a wheelchair at that time due to having knee surgery.
“A car literally about mowed us down,” she said.
Patrick Titterington, director of Public Service and Safety, said the city is reaching out to the company that previously conducted the city’s parking traffic study in 2017 to see if any of its recommendations had changed. In 2016, the council authorized an agreement with Woolpert Inc. for the 2017 parking and traffic study for up to $60,000.
Titterington said the city also plans to remove the trellises and vines, which were added by a beautification group.
Mayor Robin Oda said the city is required to provide halfway points, or “mid-point islands,” for pedestrians at those crosswalks at the roundabout.
“I’m not sure how we fix driver or pedestrian attention,” Oda said. “It is not the flower pots causing the problem. It is driver and pedestrian inattention. Removing the flower pots simply puts the pedestrian out in the middle of the street … Having a roundabout, you are supposed to provide a halfway point for pedestrians. With the flower pots, that is what we have done.” Oda added the city could not put concrete ledges there due to snow plows.
“We have gotten so much fewer complaints,” Oda said. “People used to complain all the time about people running red lights, people turning right on red. We have not had an incident where a pedestrian was struck in the circle since 2016. We had traffic lights at that point.”
Oda said the city will go through the traffic study with the traffic engineer again, adding the federal transportation board and the Ohio Department of Transportation have certain standards for roundabouts.
Oda said drivers have two points where they are supposed to yield in the roundabout, including at the crosswalk and also to traffic in the circle.
“Pedestrians have a responsibility to also watch the traffic. They have the responsibility to make eye contact with the driver,” Oda said.
William Rozell, councilman-at-large, asked if the city had those halfway points at the roundabout at Dorset and McKaig.
Titterington said the crosswalks at that roundabout have concrete islands for pedestrians.
Also during public comment, Troy resident Christopher Harshbarger continued to advocate for legislation to outlaw abortion in Troy, asking the council to pursue an ordinance establishing the city as a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” like the city of Lebanon.
“Abortion is the shedding of innocent blood,” Harshbarger said.
David Enneking, president of the Miami County Right to Life, also advocated for the city to pursue some type of law, whether an ordinance like Lebanon’s “sanctuary city for the unborn” or a zoning law, to outlaw abortion.
“I think this is a worthwhile case to investigate,” Enneking said.
Todd Severt, councilman-at-large, asked Law Director Grant Kerber if the city pursued an ordinance like Lebanon’s establishing the city as a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” if that would mean the city would “buy ourself litigation.”
Kerber indicated the city would likely get a legal challenge to it due it being “in violation of established Supreme Court precedent.”
The next regular city council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, located at 100 S. Market St. in Troy.