Beautification of Walnut Street

It is a pleasure to see downtown Walnut Street complete and open to traffic. The city officials are to be congratulated for completing this long term project. In the most recent phase there should be appreciation to the workers, downtown business owners and those who frequent downtown. It seems like there was a lot of mutual goodwill, support and patience with everyone “getting through it.”

My understanding was this was part of a comprehensive coordinated master plan starting with Stellar, then Fifth Street, O&M, Madison, and Walnut. The idea was to clean-up the traditional business district, make it look more inviting with a small town feel. Stellar, Fifth, O&M and Madison all seemed to follow this. There are the brick-edged sidewalks, trees, hang-down street lights, park benches, bike racks (which are never used) and other features. When I see people sitting at sidewalk tables under the adjoining trees on Madison Avenue, it creates a picture worthy of a tourist brochure.

By contrast Walnut street has a different style street light, no greenery (other than a planned very small patch of grass in front of M&M), the sidewalks have no brick edging. Frankly, from the top of the “Walgreens hill” it looks like an airport runway or a recently paved Wal-Mart parking lot, clean and functional, but dull.

Editors’ Note: Just last week, city employees interspersedly placed potted trees all along East Walnut Street as a compromise to planting trees into the sidewalks. Planting trees will eventually create cracks in the sidewalk as the roots grow.

The decade-old Stellar project’s original plan did provide a small, downtown feel to the roads, there was never any such plan for Walnut Street. The City of North Vernon just completed and approved a new master comp plan in 2022, and making Walnut Street the same as historic downtown was not a part of the plan.

Could someone at the Plain Dealer “Jack Webb” this and publish “just the facts”? Is there more to come for that section? Were there complaints about the previous design? Was it a money problem? I hear so many things and names being tossed out, I am curious as to the facts of who made the changes and why?

With appreciation -

Tom Taylor, North Vernon

City official’s response to ‘Beautification of Walnut Street’

The decade-old Stellar project’s original plan did provide a small, downtown feel to the roads; there was never any such plan for Walnut Street. The City of North Vernon just completed and approved a new master comp plan in 2022, and making Walnut Street the same as historic downtown was not a part of the plan.

Money was a big factor. The Stellar project provided funding for many of the amenities and eye appeal, including brick sidewalks, greenery, benches, and bicycle racks. It was part of the program.

The Walnut Street project, however, is more functional. It occurred because when the state built the bypass around the north side of the city, they turned over maintenance and responsibility of “old U.S. 50” to the city, and they did so with the street in horrible condition. In an effort to “make it right,” they provided funding to redo the road. However, no one was interested in repaving a road that had 80+ year old water and sewer lines underneath, so the state also came through with funding to get that repaired as well. It was a great asset to the city, but it stopped there. There was no extra funding for the amenities.

Regarding why the city did not do the Walnut Street project like Stellar include, firstly, the light fixtures have been a nightmare. Those on Madison, O&M, and 5th Street that hang out over the road have been hit and destroyed no less than three times by large box trucks and semi-trucks. Even with the bypass, Walnut Street is still a main thoroughfare in the city and the lights hanging out over the street weren’t going to happen again. Plus, the ones we have now are basically brand new LED lights installed during the solar project.

The new sidewalks do have a soldier course of brick along them that provide some visual appeal, but the price to replicate the Stellar project was estimated at nearly $1 million dollars per block. City officials and myself decided the city’s limited funds could be used better elsewhere.

Trees are a nightmare for sidewalks! The roots completely destroy them, as they have many sidewalks in our community. The city was just recently sued by an individual that tripped on an uneven sidewalk caused by tree root damage. Based on the advice of our engineering firm, city officials also determined the added eye appeal was not worth the potential for damage to the new sidewalks.

There will, indeed, be benches installed soon. There will be some visual appeal, but Walnut Street really serves a different purpose than the other streets mentioned. That, combined with the financial differences in the two projects, are why they have a different look and feel.

Shawn Gerkin, Clerk-Treasurer, City of North Vernon

Great results except for School board choices

Obviously voters didn’t research the candidates here.

Now when the next politically advantageous SCAMdemic comes around, (And you KNOW it will).... they will muzzle our kids up again in those germ ridden submission masks.

Expect mandatory Fauci jabs for all students as a requirement for admission to public schools.

And watch closely for big city, big union “America is inherently racist” gender confused CRT infiltration in our children’s curriculum.

Stan Cool, North Vernon