by Jennifer Mellen
interchange on Route 58 in Amherst, just north of Oberlin, is looking
less and less likely due to a disagreement over the price between
the company that owns the targeted land and the Turnpike Commission.
The Ohio Turnpike Commission made an offer based on an appraisal
several months ago to buy the land from its current owners, Consolidated
Investors Group . CIG rejected the offer and hired its own appraiser
to assess the land in hopes of reaching a more flattering estimate.
Although these results have not been released, the group feels it
should receive more money than the face value of the land, based
on the conjecture that the land is worth now does not reflect what
it could be worth in future.
At this point we havent even formally heard from the
investor group, Public Relations Director for the Turnpike
Commission Lauren Hakos-Dehermann said. That land is obviously
something thats needed for this project
so without it
we cant move forward.
If CIG does not agree to sell, theres the possibility of a
counteroffer. That land is absolutely necessary for the interchange,
Hakos-Dehermann said. [If CIG rejects the offer,] wed
have to begin negotiations. If CIG doesnt sell, there
are no other landowners in a position to do so, given the size of
land needed for the project. While it was known from the start that
additional lands might be needed to augment that plot, the Turnpike
Commission has made no other offers. The CIG property is central
to the success of the whole venture.
Should the interchange happen, the widened roadway would spell increased
traffic for Oberlin, changed traffic routes and potential competition
with business establishments already in the area.
It would also make the trip to Oberlin from the east a little bit
easier. It would make it 20 minutes shorter, first-year
Tom King said. The current interchange to Route 10 missed
have to go through back country roads to get to Route 10 for about
20 minutes. It is quite annoying.
According to New Russia Township Trustee Richard Williams, the interchange
proposal came up several years ago. It was supported by the Turnpike
Commission, but not by the trustees of Lorain County. We thought
it was just another example of urban sprawl, which was not needed
at this time, Williams said. Supporters see it as a
form of economic expansion. We see it as a further decay of the
inner city. He feels the long-term negative impacts of an
interchange outweigh the short-term economic growth.
Lorain County Planning Director Ron Twining agrees there are pros
and cons, but he supports the expansion. The countys
on record saying we want to do what we can to encourage the interchange.
Thats not a very popular stance, [but thats how we feel],
Twining said. As far as the community effects of an interchange,
its all based on procedures and policies and how theyre
carried out. The burden is on the local level.
Plans for turnpike expansion have been in the works for some time
now. Several years ago, the Ohio Turnpike Commission was appointed
by the state legislature to explore the feasibility of a North-South
corridor, a turnpike spanning the state. Currently, there are no
real plans for the corridor. It was the feeling of the committee
and of Ron Twining that a North-South corridor would tend to create
more sprawl, former county trustee Richard Reinoehl said.
The interchange in Amherst is one part of the original plan.
Right now, its been on low profile, so theres
not been a lot of discussion or interest generated in the community,