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Where the sidewalk dead ends

Shawn Foucher • Aug 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM

The road to hell? Paved in good intentions.

A 41-foot stretch of sidewalk on Ohio 60? Not paved at all anymore, also thanks to good intentions. Imagine Vermilion police Chief Chris Hartung’s surprise when he received this phone call from the city’s safety service director recently: “Uh, chief, where’s my sidewalk?”

Turns out, a pack of do-gooders angling to brighten up a swath of Ohio 60 took it upon themselves to rip up 41 feet of sandstone sidewalk late last month. The do-it-yourselfers were part of a civic group with a long-established tradition of tackling cleanup projects and similar endeavors, always with gusto. Only this time they got a little carried away, according to police.

Sunday morning, July 21, the group set out to the Mill Street railroad tracks on Ohio 60, bringing with them some heavy equipment and tools, Hartung said. With an end goal of sprucing up some street-front property — planting flowers or grass or such — the workers proceeded to pull up 41 feet of old sandstone sidewalk. They then loaded up the uprooted chunks and carted them off to another property, Hartung said.

Vermilion is rife with construction projects at present, including some sidewalk work downtown and preparation for work in other areas. So if anyone drove by the scene that Sunday morning and saw a group of folks digging something up, it might have seemed par for the course. Plus, that portion of sidewalk was old and dilapidated, Hartung said. But crumbly or not, you can’t just go around tearing up sidewalks willy-nilly.

Hartung said he and his officers investigated the incident Friday and figured out what happened. Given that the leader of the civic group is an elderly woman with a well-established history of volunteering to improve the city, police have no intention of filing charges. While the initial police report classifies the missing section of sidewalk as “theft,” it’s now a civil matter, Hartung said.

The woman who leads the volunteer group did not answer the door at her home Friday, and multiple phone calls to her number went unanswered.

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