The Messenger was gracious to ask me to be a contributor focusing on local matters. I offered and can now report that no one commented about the subject to me. I suppose there are several explanations. Perhaps, people do not read the editorial page. They did not like my conclusion about a future court house and thus did not feel a response was necessary or did not want to offend me. Regardless, I decided to move on and showcase another suggested public policy goal.
No doubt everyone has been impacted by the road construction and the street re-surfacing going on in and around Athens. Two of those projects (the McKinley Avenue extension and the East State Street interchange) are designed to improve access and make the traffic flow safer. For some reason these projects have caused me to think back to when the bypass that displaced the Children’s Home was being planned. There were some who decried the fact that no attention was being focused upon access to the beach side of Dow Lake.
There were two schools of thought on the subject. One saw limiting access through Columbia Avenue as creating a safety problem. Columbia is a narrow street. Also, Madison, an access to Columbia, is very steep. Imagine a trailer being pulled along that route and breaking loose from the vehicle pulling it. It could be a tragedy. The other school saw the beach area as a potential site for a lodge like Lake Hope or Burr Oak Lake. Without decent access that was not likely to ever happen.
An access proposal has been presented to the Ohio Department of Transportation several times. In fact, I have been informed it was submitted again quite recently and was not favorably received. I believe the proposal was essentially the same as offered at the time of the bypass construction, i.e. a spur off the four lane near Peach Ridge Road.
I admit I do not like the route that has been discussed but it would be effective and not so costly. There may be a better way to accomplish access. I wish I had a suggestion for another route. But that in my opinion does not change the fact that the beach area is going to remain a local secret that requires those who would visit the lake to traverse through a residential area on a narrow street that in some places seems almost mountainous.
If we as a community agreed a better route to Dow Lake would be a plus for Athens could we actually make it happen? Of course, no one can say for sure; these are uncertain, maybe even bizarre times, but there are indications, infrastructure may become a national goal. Should we try to be first in line?
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L. Alan Goldsberry is a retired Athens County judge.