Monday, June 17, 2019 Medina 68°
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Railroad zones aim to make a quieter place in Medina

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MEDINA — The city of Medina has begun the process of establishing railroad quiet zones that would prohibit trains from blowing their horns in certain areas of the city, unless there is a safety concern.

The idea has the backing of a developer who is reviving the historic Farmers Exchange.

City Engineer Patrick Patton said he will reach out to the Federal Railroad Administration to start the application process.

Local developer Charles Marshall, who is in charge of renovating the Farmers Exchange, has offered to donate $50,000 to the project.

“We could apply for a quiet zone and get (the FRA’s) determination before any money is spent,” Marshall said.

The apartments in the Farmers Exchange will be right next to a railway line that crosses South Court Street.

He said he expects the apartments will be ready by October.

“I’d like to get this moving,” Marshall said.

“We can see what the cost is and take $50,000 off of it. I’ll write the check.”

Patton said the city’s railway system has six crossings, of which only three have gates and flashers. The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway system includes 10 railroad crossings in the city, which all have gates and flashers, he said.

The train horn sound is considered a safety measure. In order to remove it, supplemental safety measures or alternative safety measures must be provided.

The safety measures can include:

  • Channelization devices, which are the least costly option. Posts are installed about 100 feet down the median, which prevent vehicles from going around the gates that are extended across the intersection. Patton said the estimated cost per crossing is $16,500 each;
  • Raised concrete medians, which would discourage drivers from going over the curb. Estimated cost is $22,500 per crossing;
  • Four quadrant gate systems, which would install two gates on each side of the tracks, which are the most costly. Estimated cost per crossing is $200,000 each.

Patton said no federal or state funding is available for creating quiet zones. The city would be responsible for maintaining the devices.

The FRA ultimately has jurisdiction in approving a quiet zone, Patton said.

In order to create a quiet zone, a review and analysis of each crossing must be completed. The process includes notification of various local, state and federal entities, as well as inspections and inventory of each crossing.

The request would have to be submitted to the FRA for review. The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will also be notified and will be asked to provide comment to the FRA.

After the review process, the FRA will determine which supplemental safety measure will work best at each crossing.

If the city established a quiet zone, Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson said it would make many residents very happy.

He said there have been no safety issues in the city for the last 10 to 15 years with the gates and flashers it currently uses.

Trains run through the city at 25 mph, Fire Chief Bob Painter said.

City Law Director Greg Huber is a bit concerned with the city’s liability if trains can’t blow their horns in certain designated areas.

Patton said there is no charge to go through the process and see what equipment is recommended. He said the city would worry about funding it at a later date, if it decides to adopt a quiet zone.

In other news

  • Instead of moving the Sophia Huntington Parker house at 347 N. Huntington St., local historian Suzanne Sharpe wants to turn it into a community center and museum.The plan was for Medina Schools to purchase the house and 0.629 acres for $65,000, which it has, and trade it to the city for the house and land at 625 Bowman Lane.The school district was going to demolish the house and the city would expand its parking lot at Ray Mellert Park.
    However, Sharpe uncovered the fact that Huntington Parker’s home was one of the earliest in the city. Huntington Parker donated 86 acres to build the Pythian Sisters Home in her will.
    ”My suggestion would be to meet in the middle,” she told the finance committee on Monday. “You get the parking spaces. You’ll also have a community center and living museum.”She said she has applied for a nonprofit, which she said would own and run the property. Sharpe wants to collaborate with Let’s Make a Difference founder Cheryl Powell at a community center for children.
    Sharpe said the parcel of land could be divided. Then, parking spaces could wrap around the house on the property.
    “It would be a win-win situation,” she said.
    “We can preserve the house and it can be saved. As a historic preservation project, it would have access to more grants.”
    Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said the city can’t just give her nonprofit the house. He said it has to be put on the market for everyone to make a bid.
    “We have to work through some issues,” he said.
    Sharpe said she’s received resolutions of support from the Community Design Committee in Medina, as well as the Cleveland Restoration Society.
    She found a copy of Huntington Parker’s will, and in it, the former resident asked that her farmhouse become a home for poor children.
    “She spoke to me through that,” Sharpe said.
    She said she’s received three verbal pledges from people for $40,000 for the restoration of the house.
  • The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will get $8,850 from the city in 2019. Last year, Medina gave the SPCA $8,670.
    Acting President Jim Shields said the SPCA provides an important service to the city by taking in cats and dogs.
  • The mayor read a proclamation that designates April as Autism Awareness month. Everyone is encouraged to wear blue on Tuesday, April 2, to bring awareness to autism, which he said affects one of every 59 children.
  • Medina High School junior Barry Coleman, an employee at Jimmy John’s, was given a certificate from At-Large Councilman Paul Rose for his good deed recently.
    Coleman played the popular “Baby Shark” video for a cranky baby in the restaurant, which made everyone happy, including the toddler.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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