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Survey Seeks Silver Creek Residents Preferences For Connector Road

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Summit County
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The Summit County Council, earlier in September, didn’t make a decision about a connector road from lower Silver Creek to the Bitner Frontage Road.

They left local citizens a couple of months to look at different options, and to survey opinion from the area. A survey went up online as of Wednesday.

The County Council has focused on two choices—a Frontage Road option, parallel to Interstate 80, and another alignment higher up, the Bitner Church Street option, going by the Mountain Life Church at Silver Creek.

Long-time Silver Creek resident Annette Velarde said they have posted a survey as of Wednesday at “summitcitizens.com”. She said they’re asking for opinions from Silver Creek and the surrounding neighborhoods. They plan to close the survey in 30 days and submit it to the Council at their meeting of November 6th.

The County Council, in a letter posted last week, advised residents that a poll isn’t necessarily going to be decisive. We asked Velarde why they’re conducting the survey.

“The majority does not always rule,” Verlarde explained. “However, when we took a look at the Council’s strong leaning towards one of the options at the September 11th meeting, we were concerned that they didn’t have any current or valid datable data to support that decision. And so what we want to provide them with is some current data that can be verified.”

She said the survey has four questions. Velarde added the survey doesn’t list arguments for and against the two options.

“We have removed all pros and cons from the website, because we found that even the pros and cons submitted by the county were not necessarily based in evidence,” Verlarde continued. “And all the pros and cons that were submitted by residence owners could also be difficult to provide evidence for. So we removed them and we trusted the people filling out the survey will do their own research, and reach their own conclusions.”

The Council’s letter outlined some conditions for a connector road. They said it has to address both transit concerns and must provide a second safety access to Silver Creek. They also said it is not acceptable to do nothing.

We asked Velarde if residents generally agree that some kind of a road has to be created.

“Well, I don’t want to second-guess the majority,” Verlarde said. “But it is clear that it is difficult for fire trucks, ambulances, the police to get in and out of Silver Creek, especially if there’s a problem at the one entrance/exit that we currently have. So it has been discussed for many years, maybe even many decades, that a second ingress/egress is needed. But what our initial leaning towards was asking the Council for roads that would have safety crash-gates on them so that we wouldn’t increase local traffic. However, the Council addressed that in their letter that they would not be willing to consider that.”

At the previous hearing on September 11th, some residents mentioned a pedestrian tunnel is currently under I-80. But county officials said upgrading it would cost tens of millions of dollars.

“We currently have a small underpass under I-80, but it is for foot traffic, bike traffic only,” Verlarde explained. “Certainly, that should be a consideration for the Council to install more easily-addressed ingress/egress on that option. But it is not currently large enough to be a reasonable escape route for the entire neighborhood.”

The Council’s letter also said that whatever route they choose, it will impact someone, and they plan to mitigate safety concerns. But Velarde said she doesn’t know what the county means by that.

“Whenever you increase traffic, safety concerns are increased,” Verlarde continued. “So, it will be interesting to see what they come back with as addressing a mitigation of that.”

The Council letter also said a solution can’t turn into a contest of “our neighborhood vs. their neighborhood”. But Velarde said she thinks the citizens will pursue the greatest good for the greatest number.

She also said she will not declare her position until the survey is complete.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.
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