Where the sidewalk dead ends

Vermilion civic group takes cleanup project a little too far, removing 41 feet of pathway
Shawn Foucher
Aug 10, 2013


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.



I guess Vermillion just solved their problem with the sidewalks, just remove them.


What is the property the old stone was taken to? Good enough for someplace else but not there? I live in Vermilion and have a pretty good guess on who this woman is. If it was any other resident or business, city law REQUIRES a permit or permission from the city to do this. Sidewalks are city property! Sandstone, no matter what shape it is in has value. Go to landscape contractor and see how much they want for sandstone! Did they pay for it? Is it now being used on another city property? If not, it is theft no matter who you are. Hope they are not thinking the city will just "foot the bill" for replacing what they dug up! Hold all the individuals involved responsible!


I agree with fenderstradt52. A law is a law and when one person or group is allowed to get away with breaking it, it diminishes the rest of us.

Common sense would dictate that any civic group receive permission for such a project based on the liability issues alone.

My gut reaction said that somebody took this to their private property for their personal use. This needs to be investigated further and the police dropped the ball by not filing charges just to protect someone. Baloney. If any one of us did that, we would be in jail!

Let this be a good lesson for all involved and make it right by having the civic group pay for new sidewalks instead of hiding behind one's age and calling it old-timer's syndrome.


Anyone ignorant enough to think they can pull up the public sidewalks without city permission has no business being involved in this kind of "community service." The road to hell is paved with good intentions.


I'm in the market for some historic limestone sidewalks for a patio behind my house.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Well, that's a slightly "walkward" situation.