Seek swift solution
Village officials in Belmont are no strangers to dealing with adversity. That is why we are confident they will work hard to find a way to overcome the latest obstacle to their plans.
At the beginning of 2016, there was just one village official — newly elected Mayor Stan Sobel. The community’s fiscal officer and all but one of its council members had resigned. The councilman who did not resign had allowed his term to expire without seeking re-election. That left Sobel to start from scratch, finding ways to appoint new council members and getting assistance from surrounding communities so the village could conduct business.
After resolving all of those concerns, the snag village leaders encountered this week may seem like a small matter by comparison.
Plans to widen the intersection where Ohio 147 and Ohio 149 enter Belmont to accommodate large truck traffic ground to a halt — at least temporarily — during a special meeting of Village Council on Monday. Cody Gilliam of Rice Energy delivered the news that the village does not own the property where the widening work would take place. Rice has pledged to perform the work for the village as an act of goodwill, since many of Rice’s drilling operations are nearby.
According to Gilliam, CSX Transportation owns and has been paying taxes on the property since 1987. Gilliam termed the discovery a “hiccup” in the plans and said it would be up to the village to obtain the rights to the land in question before construction could proceed.
Council members decided to seek a swift solution, since they had hoped to start construction this spring. Village Solicitor T.J. Schultz will approach CSX about the village obtaining the property or a right of way for the road improvement project.
The intersection where large trucks enter the village at Bridge Street is nearly too narrow to accommodate them, and minor accidents there in recent years have resulted in traffic delays and property damage. Village leaders are right to pursue a quick resolution, and Rice should be commended for its willingness to complete the project at no cost to the community.