Race route becomes issue during council meeting

COLUMBIANA – It may be risky but it is possible to keep hundreds of runners safe on a new route through town this December.

Police Chief Tim Gladis voiced some concerns about the new route planned for the ‘Twas the Night Before 5K race hosted by a local non-profit.

Crystal Siembida Boggs, of the Siembida-Boggs Philanthropic Foundation, went before City Council last week, saying a new route was needed since the park board didn’t approve the one used last year.

The race wound through the Harvey S. Firestone Park during the annual Joy of Christmas light show. Proceeds from the race went back to park.

This year marks the second year for the annual race scheduled for Dec. 14.

Boggs said the board denied the request because of the Christmas light display, but didn’t offer specific details.

Board president Ron Detwiler was unavailable for comment, but minutes of the April 22 park board meeting simply state the request was denied because of the light display. The vote was unanimous.

Boggs said the new route will start at the high school on Columbiana-Waterford Road. It will continue down Duquesne, go left on Fairfield Avenue, left on Metz and left again on Columbiana-Waterford Road, bringing runners back to the school for the finish.

The approximately 50-minute race will begin at 5 p.m., she said.

Gladis pointed out it will be dark by that time and was concerned about runners being so close to traffic in an area that isn’t well-lit.

Boggs said the route will feature homemade luminaries and runners will be issued glow sticks.

Councilman James King asked if runners could avoid crossing Columbiana-Waterford Road because he didn’t believe it would be safe, but Boggs responded the city is “limited” in terms of another route that could handle 500 people.

Gladis also said crossing that road would be dangerous but offered to provide enough police assistance to ensure the runners wouldn’t cause problems for motorists, or vice-versa.

“We will commit to try to control traffic there. It’s not the safest intersection in town,” he said.

Council approved the new route. Boggs will need approval from Fairfield Township trustees before it is official.

The race is not the only one hosted by the foundation, although it is the only one during the winter months. The Vision for Veterans 5K will take place in Firestone Park on May 17.

In other business, council also approved:

– Second readings of legislation allowing for the use of personal vehicles on city business, contracting with Mid-Ohio Valley Lime for lime for the water plant, contracting with Lyden Oil Company for gasoline and diesel fuel and contracting with Dunbar Asphalt Products for asphalt.

– Setting a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. June 18 to consider amendments to the City Planning and Zoning Code. Amendments pertain to time limitations on site plans, cleaning up typographical errors in language, and standardizing building heights.

– Three pieces of emergency legislation to pay down bonds previously taken out for the north substation upgrades, improving the water main system in the south side of the city and the cost of constructing, installing and equipping water treatment facilities and waterlines. Notes taken out were $100,000 for the electric system, $400,000 for the water main system and $670,000 for the water treatment system.