A stop sign erected six years ago to eliminate a traffic hazard near the village’s beloved town pump continues to create confusion for out-of-town drivers.
The sign tells drivers heading south on Main Avenue SE to stop at the Walnut Street SE intersection — except if they are turning right. The problem begins when an oncoming Walnut Street motorist unfamiliar with the intersection doesn’t know about the right-turn exception and expects the driver to stop.
“There’s near misses left and right (there) every day,” Councilwoman Charlene Stelluto said.
Stelluto, a councilwoman since 2004, began exploring the idea of converting the awkward four-way intersection into a roundabout that would encircle the historic town pump, considered the community’s most famous landmark.
With the roundabout, drivers would follow a single-lane road around a circle and exit to the right at the desired road without stopping. Between 1,500 to 1,900 vehicles — including many semitrailers — travel along Walnut and Main daily, traffic estimates show. The streets are posted at 25 miles per hour.
The project, which also would include a new storm sewer, is estimated to cost $272,393. The East Sparta Women’s Club will contribute nearly $7,000 toward the project, said Stelluto, the club’s treasurer and project chair.
Stark County commissioners may pitch in $155,000 for the project’s construction using money from the county’s allocation of Community Development Block Grant funds. It’s one of five infrastructure projects being recommended for the 2013-2014 grant allocations. The federally funded program supports projects aimed at improving conditions for people with low and moderate incomes who live in communities outside the cities of Canton, Massillon and Alliance (which have their own programs) and Hills and Dales village.
Commissioners are expected to make a decision on the funding plan in mid-April. Residents can submit comments on the proposed allocations until April 9.
East Sparta last received community development block grant funds in 1991.
Lynn Carlone, community development administrator for the Stark County Regional Planning Commission, which administers the grant program on the commissioners’ behalf, expects the county to receive $969,595 for the 2013 block grant program that begins July 1 and another $969,595 for the 2014 program. The amounts are 8 percent lower than what the county received in 2012 and Carlone said the federal government’s automatic budget cuts threatens to reduce the block grant allocation even further. She said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has not released a timetable for when it expects to finalize its allocation figures.
“This is our best guesstimate at this point,” she said.
About half of the block grant program’s disbursements were set last year as part of the first year of a three-year cycle. New this year are the infrastructure and public facility projects that will be funded through June 30, 2015.
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Six infrastructure projects were submitted. A five-member review committee, with representatives from the large townships, small townships, villages and cities as well as an at-large representative, and three Regional Planning employees evaluated the submitted projects and recommended that commissioners fund five of them.
Carlone said Lawrence Township’s proposed sanitary sewer project wasn’t funded because the township requested $881,000 in grant money.
“We just don’t have that much,” she said.
Besides the $155,000 for the East Sparta roundabout, the committee recommended: $110,000 for improvements to Minerva’s wastewater treatment plant, $150,000 to replace waterlines along Hillcrest and Royer avenues NW in North Canton, $190,895 (including $46,296 of unused funds from last year’s program) for improvements to a storm sewer along Woodward Street NW in Plain Township.
The committee also recommended that commissioners spend $378,038 in 2014 to extend Canton City waterlines through Hartville to provide a reliable water source and better fire protection for residents.
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