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Stalled on Ireland Ave.

TIFFIN — Tiffin City Engineer Doug Frederick told the city council plans for the Ireland Avenue Extension for approval are still on hold, pending resolution of the Ireland Avenue and Hwy. 6 intersection and adjacent businesses. Adding to the stall is an ongoing disagreement between two local business owners whose establishments are located along the roadway.
Frederick gave his report at the Wednesday, July 11, regular meeting where John Schneider, owner of Jon’s Ice Cream Store, presented photos to the council.
Schneider’s photos showed how his business is impacted by gasoline trucks and other trucks making deliveries to The Depot, his neighbor to the immediate east,which is owned by Tom Sheets. Once Ireland Avenue is complete, the two businesses will be accessed off the highway via a common driveway. A right turn lane from Ireland to the highway will likely mean fewer parking spaces for Schneider’s business. Recent expansion at The Depot resulted in a grade separation with a retaining wall between the two properties. The driveway into and out of The Depot will necessitate part of the wall being removed for a sloped driveway. This also will affect parking on Schneider’s property.
Schneider said he was worried not only about the future ingress and egress issues, but also what he sees as a profound safety hazard.
“It looks pretty dangerous if someone comes in there (where the semi-tractor trailer trucks sit to unload fuel) who’s impaired, has a vehicle that’s not running properly, and they’re dumping fuel out in the open…I’d be involved…in an explosion,” Schneider said. His photo showed a semi with its rear wheels sitting where the approach to Jon’s will be, effectively closing access for the duration of the delivery. He also said The Depot’s tanks did not appear to him to be very large, leading to frequent deliveries, especially as business picks up, “…creating even more of an issue. I’m worried about it.”
City attorney Steve Greenleaf said a meeting had been scheduled with Sheets to address Schneider’s concerns, which Greenleaf said were valid. “Obviously, the location of the tanks and the off-loading is going to be a topic for discussion,” Greenleaf said. “There’s going to have to be some changes made for everybody to thrive.”
“I’ve been there before everybody else,” Schneider reminded the council, “I just want to be able to function like I have in the past. That’s all I’m asking.”
“That’s our goal,” Greenleaf assured him. “It’s a challenge.” The attorney also said Fredrick’s crew has drawn up numerous plans in an attempt to make it work for everyone.
Frederick said the plans are also awaiting property appraisals on two easements needed for the project and the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) was suggesting the city run the three lanes on Highway 6 (eastbound, center turn lane, westbound) to Grant Street where they would taper down. He said the DOT’s future plans are to widen Hwy. 6 beyond Grant Street to the east. “That’s their suggestion,” Frederick said, asking the council for their input.
Comments from the council included: “we stop where we’re going to stop. Let them pay for it,” “it’s theirs, not ours;” and councilwoman Peggy Upton, who said, “Now if they would want to trade that for a stoplight…” Upton has repeatedly called for a stoplight at the Hwy. 6/Ireland Avenue /Roberts Ferry Road intersection due to the heavy pedestrian traffic with the Clear Creek Amana schools. So far the state has denied funding for signals, saying a four-way stop is adequate for traffic flow and safety.
Mayor Steve Berner directed Frederick to continue to finalize the plans and submit to the IDOT for approval. “We’ve been working on these plans for a long time,” Berner added.