A landslip in the 100 block of Bellevue Street on Harmar Hill has Marietta officials considering the possibility of vacating or permanently closing that section of the street between Bartlett and Lancaster streets.
Two property owners who live in that block of Bellevue say they're not interested in having the city vacate the street because the roadway would be turned over to them.
"I don't want to own it. If that street would slip down onto Lancaster Street we would be held responsible," said Linda Cole, who's lived in her 104 Bellevue St. home for nearly 48 years.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Bellevue Street resident Linda Cole looks over the landslip that has caused Marietta officials to close the street to traffic for the last six months.
The chronic landslip is located on the steep hillside, just across Bellevue from Cole's home, and has caused the eastern edge of the roadway to crumble in some places.
A guardrail helps protect vehicles from running off the road, but the street has grown so narrow there that city officials decided earlier this year to close that block of Bellevue to traffic.
Marietta city engineer Joe Tucker said the roadway will remain closed until the landslip issue can be resolved.
Cole's neighbor at 100 Bellevue St., Duane Murray, also has no desire to take on responsibility for the street.
"We don't want to have to maintain the street, we just want the city to fix it," he said. "I was born in this house and have lived here for 73 years, and if they close this street I believe it would lower my property value, too."
Vacating the street and turning it over to the adjacent property owners, or permanently closing the street are just a couple of the options available to the city, Tucker said.
Problems on Bellevue
A landslip is eroding part of the narrow roadway in the 100 block of Bellevue Street on Harmar Hill in Marietta.
The street is currently closed to traffic in that area while city officials consider options to repair, vacate or permanently close the street.
Marietta's city engineer is currently planning to apply for an Ohio Public Works Commission grant to repair the slip.
"We could also change the present location of the roadway or repair the slip by drilling horizontally into the hillside and installing support beams," he said. "But the road will stay closed until we can come up with a repair that will make it safer."
The closing of the street also blocks access to a driveway behind Cole's home where she keeps a large recreational vehicle parked.
During a city council streets and transportation committee meeting last week, Cole suggested the city could move the street and guardrail a couple of feet west, away from the slip, although that would take out a portion of her side yard.
Tucker said that is an option, but it would require cutting into Cole's yard and possibly building a retaining wall along that side of the street to keep the soil on her property from slippage.
"I would like to come up with a fix that would be more sustainable," he said. "I'm currently working on an estimate for a more permanent slip repair. It will probably be costly, and we're going to see if we can get a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to do that work."
Cole said the slip has been a problem for many years, but instead of repairing it the city would try to move the roadway and guardrail away from the slippage area.
"It's become worse now, but I don't want them to keep the road closed," she said.
Murray said people from the neighborhood use that end of Bellevue to access Lancaster Street, and visitors to the Lookout Point pocket park in the 200 block also use Bellevue to get back onto Lancaster.
"And when the shifts change at the (Marietta Nursing and Rehabilitation Center), the employees travel along this end of the street on their way home," he said. "I haven't talked to anyone in this area who wants the street to remain closed."
Tucker said if the city decides to close, instead of vacate, the street, city crews would be responsible to maintain the roadway and drainage structures.
Oak Street case
If the street is vacated, responsibility for maintenance would fall to the property owners, which is what happened to David Venham in 2007 when city council approved the vacating of a 645-foot, landslip-prone portion of Oak Street between Montgomery and Dean streets.
Venham, 80, owns a large tract of property surrounding the vacated area of Oak Street, which is now little more than a trail leading up the hillside to Dean Street. Permanent barriers have been installed at each end of the vacated roadway.
"This used to be a well-traveled street," Venham said. "Now some people hike on it or ride bicycles there."
He said the city turned the vacated portion of the road over to him, and he tries to keep what remains of the street maintained in the best way he can.
"I've carried rocks and cement to place along the bank to keep the slip stabilized," Venham said. "And I try to keep the drainage ditches open for people who live on the hillside below the street."
Marietta Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said while Oak Street had to be vacated due to landslips, vacating Bellevue would not be in the best interest of the Harmar Hill neighborhoods.
"Employees from the rehab center use that section of Bellevue regularly, and when Maple Street was closed due to a slip last year, people would drive Bellevue to access Lancaster Street," he said.
Vukovic also noted that closing Bellevue would eliminate one more roadway that could provide traffic access to Harmar Hill.
He said Tucker's proposal to repair the landslip would be the best way to go.
"The neighborhood doesn't want the street closed or vacated," he said. "And Joe's approach would be to make a more permanent repair to the slip."