Pedestrian safety along multipurpose trail called into question

by Melissa Martin

Oct. 3 city council meeting

Brecksville City Council members agreed to move forward with the construction of the Blossom Hill multipurpose trail Oct. 3 despite a list of safety concerns voiced by a city resident.

Hollis Lane resident Adam Diem asked council to postpone approval of legislation authorizing Donald G. Bohning & Associates to provide construction management services for the project in the amount of $17,790 to allow for time to address traffic concerns stemming from the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Elementary School.

Diem, a cyclist and advocate of connectivity throughout the city, said that as much as he believes the trail will ultimately be a positive asset for the community, he said he worries for students’ and other pedestrians’ safety as they exit the building and utilize the proposed trail at arrival and dismissal times.

Diem told council his eldest daughter attends the school and that he’s watched motorists “roll through stop signs” at dismissal times. He further explained that he watched as his daughter was nearly struck by a vehicle as she exited the school as a result of a motorist who did not follow designated traffic patterns.

“It is unsafe for cars and buses and kids to mix,” he said. “But we are doing exactly this with this crosswalk. … I am not asking that you completely shut this project down because this project will provide the connectivity the city truly needs. What I am asking is that you postpone awarding this bid until the next council meeting.”

When combined with the new sidewalks on Glenwood Trail, and additional sidewalks that will be constructed along Oakes Road, the mile-long multipurpose trail, estimated at $315,000, is intended to provide residents living on Glenwood and in the vicinity of Blossom Hill direct walking and biking access to Valley Parkway, the Cleveland Metroparks and state Route 82. The trail and sidewalks along Oakes Road also will provide a walking/biking connection from BBH Elementary and Blossom Hill Field House to the park on the east side of Blossom Hill.

Diem asked all city department heads and council members to sit outside the school and watch traffic flow in and around the site to get a firsthand look at the issues that exist. He also asked city officials to consider additional signage, flashing lights and even speed bumps to rectify any issues before the trail opens.

Mayor Jerry Hruby told Diem the city has not been made aware of any traffic concerns, noting plans have been reviewed by the Cleveland Metroparks, the city and the school district.

“We’re all in agreement with what’s been designed,” he said. “We have an obligation to the citizens to make [the multipurpose trail] safe and I really believe that [the city engineer] believes it is safe.”

Councilwoman Ann Koepke agreed she beilieves the plan are safe, but as a precaution asked the city’s administration to contact Superintendent Jeffrey Harrison for his perspective and to determine if there are any additional enforcements that need to be made to make the intersection safer.

“I’ve sat there and watched cars roll through that intersection. It does happen and it makes me nervous,” Koepke said, noting she’s even taken videos of violations on several occasions. “Thank God nothing has happened yet.”

City Engineer Gerry Wise said the only issue that remains a concern is the sidewalk that will be located in front of the Blossom Hill complex.

“The sidewalk has to cross Blossom Drive and the same traffic will cross at Oakes Road,” he said. “We’ll have to have stop signs there, but we can’t put flashing signs at every drive.”

Hruby said the administration will discuss the matter further in the coming weeks.

In other news, city council also approved the purchase of 50 desktop computers and four laptops  at a cost of $69,189 through the state administrative services contract. The computers were included as part of the city’s 2023 budget and will serve as replacements for the computers currently being used by city personnel to conduct their duties. While many of the computers will be auctioned off, several others are expected to be retained by the city as backup devices.

Council also approved the $13,056 purchase of replacement snowplow blades to be used on five of the city’s trucks that will be used for plowing this winter. The blades will be purchased from Ironhawk Industrial Distribution.

Lastly, council and the administration recognized members of the city’s charter review commission which spent the past year reviewing and proposing changes to the city’s charter. The committee’s list of recommended changes will be voted on by the electorate on the Nov. 7 ballot.

“I just can’t thank you enough for your time,” Hruby told commission members as the city presented each with a plaque. “Our gratitude is heartfelt and we appreciate your service very much.” ∞