For years, the village wanted to connect residents who live past South Broad Street and Old State Road with Edison Elementary School and the rest of the village.
“We’ve needed to have sidewalks out to the south for the past 50 years,” village administrator Brian Rospert said. “My parents wouldn’t even let me ride my bicycle past there when I was kid because they thought it wasn’t safe.”
In 2015, former Mayor Steve Rockwell asked Rospert to look into the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Grant to build the much-needed sidewalks.
The village’s first grant application was denied with the department indicating more work was needed to help educate students about safety in order to meet the grant’s criteria.
Rospert teamed with the Edison Elementary, Milan police, emergency responders and local residents to come up with ways to help educate students about road safety. The village and the school began to host annual events like the bicycle rodeo and seminars on pedestrian safety.
“The Safe Routes to School grant is great for the village, but probably the most rewarding thing to come out this was partnering with the school to help teach safety,” Rospert said.
With the new programs in place, the department awarded the village $400,000 to add 4,000 feet of sidewalk along the west side of Main Street from Oak Street to Old State Road as well as a pedestrian traffic signal heads at the crosswalk at Main and Church streets.
The village also will add a flashing pedestrian beacon for the crosswalk at Edison Elementary which crosses Main Street to the A-field, where many grades have recess.
“It was estimated that we would go over on the budget, so we sought the department’s help again and they generously agreed to award us an additional $51,019 for the project,” Rospert said.
With the additional funds, it’s expected the whole project could be completed without costing taxpayers a dime.
“We have some money set aside just in case, but because of the support of the department, there’s a chance not a single tax dollar will need to be used for the project,” village council president Ben Smith said.
Rospert said there’s still plenty of planning and zoning work needed and the earliest construction may begin is summer 2020, but spring 2021 is a more realistic estimate.
“On an awesome summer night every street will have some on it,” Smith said. “This isn’t just benefitting students it’s benefitting every family or anyone who wants to come and enjoy downtown Milan.”