Q: I live close to the corner of East Washington and Hancock streets. To the best of my knowledge, there have been about eight or nine accidents at that intersection this year. There used to be a stoplight there, but it was replaced with a stop sign several years ago. Why was the stoplight removed? And in view of the frequency of accidents, can it be replaced? Thank you.
-- Barb at East Washington Street
A: Great question, Barb. I drive north through that intersection every day on my way to work and it's brutal. When cars are parked on the side of the street, it's really hard to see if cars are coming from east to west.
The city removed that stoplight a few years ago because it didn't meet the eight standards for stoplights established by the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, according to Kathy McKillips, the city's deputy engineer. Most of those standards have to do with the amount of vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the intersection, but the OMUTCD also considers the number of accidents.
McKillips said the intersection didn't meet those standards a few years ago. But given the recent number of accidents -- McKillips checked and said she found three this year -- she said the city will reconsider putting a traffic light there.
One problem: Stoplights cost a lot of money. Washington and Hancock streets may be cheaper than the normal cost if the city can use the old poles it originally used at that intersection. Still, it costs tens of thousands of dollars for installations and upkeep, McKillips said. Once the city makes a decision or I hear anything further, I'll let you know.
Q: What's your opinion of Don Icsman? Will the city seriously consider him for full-time city manager's position?
-- Robert on Jay Street
A: Thanks for the question, Robert. From a journalist's point of view, in my opinion, Icsman is great. He's very responsive, which is rare in government. He always calls me back, and when I need public records, he sends them to me almost instantly. When other city officials won't get back to me, he even gives them a prodding. I couldn't ask for a better working relationship.
As for your second question, I do think the city will seriously consider him for the full-time city manager's position.
But logistically, if the city commission hired him as the full-time manager, they would also have to search for a new law director, so they would have to conduct two searches instead of one. That takes time and money, and lowers your chances for success. He's also older, and not too far away from retirement, so that's something to consider if the city's looking for stability and a long-term solution. But on an interim basis, I think he's done an excellent job, and would make a fine city manager if that's the route the city commission chooses to go.
Q: What are the chances we could get curbs on LaSalle Street? The street next to us, Winnebago Avenue, has curbs, with people only allowed to park on one side of the street. Ours is a narrow street and it would help greatly in terms of safety (and look a lot nicer) if our street was modeled after Winnebago. Thanks!
-- Cheryl on LaSalle St.
A: Another great question, Cheryl. Winnebago Avenue got its curbs because of its proactive citizens. In the late 1990s the residents of that street got their neighbors to sign a petition asking for curbs and gutters, and those residents agreed to pay for 98 percent of the cost, with the city paying the other 2 percent.
As part of that deal, the city took out a loan to complete the project and assessed the cost to the neighbors' property taxes, spreading it over a number of years.
If you wish to do the same for LaSalle Street, contact deputy city engineer Kathy McKillips at 419-627-5829. She said she will give you a petition and an estimated cost, which you can then share with your neighbors. If you find enough neighbors willing to split the cost with you, you can get curbs too. Good luck!
Q: Jason, I live at Viewpoint and I'm looking over at the Jackson Street Pier.
Today they took the Canadian flag down and put up a great big black one. Can you see what that is and why they did that? Thank you very much.
-- Ann on East Shoreline Drive
A: Thanks for the question, Ann. If you read my mailbag on Thursday, another resident complained about the tattered flags at Jackson Street Pier. I contacted city commissioner Dave Waddington about this problem, and he wanted to make it better.
The city immediately replaced the tattered American flag with a new one in better shape. It didn't have any Canadian flags in stock, however.
So the city decided to replace the well-worn Canadian flag with the black P.O.W. flag you see out your window. The P.O.W. flag honors American soldiers who have been captured or lost during wartime. City officials felt it was a worthy replacement.
To ask Jason a question, send a letter to 314 W. Market St. or e-mail email@example.com. Please include your first name and a location in the e-mail, e.g. "John from Decatur Street."