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Woodsfield Village Council Discusses Traffic Islands

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Woodsfield Councilman D.R. Hughes, center, points to blueprints of what traffic islands in the village will look like following a pending Ohio Department of Transportation project as Councilwoman Carol Hehr, left, and Village Administrator Kevin Brooks look on.

Woodsfield Village Council answered residents’ questions Monday about the future of the downtown traffic islands following an upcoming Ohio Department of Transportation roadway safety project.

Several residents were also present and three raised objections to council’s manner of informing Mick Schumacher, a Monroe County commissioner and member of the Monroe County Arts Council, that he would not be permitted to landscape the islands after January.

Schumacher received a letter — hand delivered by a Woodsfield police officer — stating no one will be permitted to be in or on the village’s island property in the downtown area beginning Jan. 1 due to the project, scheduled to begin in the spring.

For the past two years, Schumacher has spent his own time and money landscaping the islands. Council’s decision sparked anger and speculation after Schumacher posted the letter on social media.

Resident Angela Beardmore addressed council, commending Schumacher’s work on the islands.

“I just feel that they’re a wonderful asset to our community,” she said. “Are the islands still going to be there?”

Village Administrator Kevin Brooks told her the islands would remain after the ODOT project.

Beardman said the letter to Schumacher could have been worded and delivered differently.

“He along with several others have worked very hard to maintain the islands,” she said, calling the letter overly critical and a “slap in the face.” She suggested an apology to Schumacher might be in order.

Mayor Michael Ricer said the village followed its policy in notifying Schumacher.

“You may feel the letter wasn’t proper, but it was proper. This is a safety issue for the village. That’s all we’re saying. That’s all the letter was about,” Ricer said. “Once this is done, we’ll let him back in the islands.”

Councilman D.R. Hughes said the letter was a personal communication between the village and Schumacher and not intended for the public.

“I honestly feel it could have been worded better,” Beardmore said. “In a day where it’s hard to get volunteers, it’s important for the ones that you do have to let them know they’re appreciated.”

“We do appreciate what he does,” Councilwoman Carol Hehr said, adding volunteers should communicate their intentions before landscaping and improving village property.

Councilman Tom Kirkland said an apology was not called for.

“It wasn’t picking on an individual,” Kirkland said.

“We make ourselves a mockery, and social media has a big part of that, but it’s absolute craziness that we can’t come together … and go and sit down with Mick Schumacher and say, ‘This is what’s going to happen and this is what we’re going to do,'” resident Jim Williams said, adding that there could be similar complaints about businesses impeding traffic at the intersection.

Village Administrator Kevin Brooks elaborated on the finalized plans for the islands. He said they have not been posted online, but blueprints are available for viewing at the village building.

“We’ve just seen the finalized plans this past week,” Councilman Anthony McDaniel said, noting there has been speculation and misinformation about the future of the islands.

The foot-and-a-half curb on the west side will be reduced to six inches and elevated. The $1.1 million project will be 100 percent funded through ODOT. Brooks said the project will go to bid late this year or in early 2022 with the goal of selecting a contractor by February or March and construction beginning in April and lasting 90-100 days.

The village office is located at 221 S. Main St.

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