City needs land for 7th, Pike work

MARIETTA – The city of Marietta hopes to reach an agreement soon with Marietta College over land the city needs to acquire to add a turn lane at the Seventh, Pike and Greene Street intersection.

The city engineering department recently requested $227,700 for right-of-way acquisition for the more-than $2 million project to improve traffic and pedestrian safety, slated to be done next year. There are six pieces of property ranging from a couple hundredths of an acre in size to more than a tenth of an acre that the city must obtain to make room for the widened road.

“Offers have already been made to every one of these property owners with the exception of Marietta College and Captain D’s,” said city engineer Joe Tucker. “Those are two of the more complicated ones.”

The college’s soccer field sits on the property of which the city wants a piece. The portion the city is to acquire would go about three-and-a-half feet past the fence, which would have to be removed and replaced. A temporary fence will be erected while the work is being done. Those additional costs will be included in the city’s offer to the college.

Tucker said city and college representatives have met multiple times to discuss the acquisition and the size of the property the city is seeking has been scaled back.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the city could invoke its power of eminent domain to acquire the land. A jury trial could be held to determine how much the city should pay for the land, city law director Paul Bertram III said.

But both sides say they aren’t looking to go down that road.

“We’re trying to do a mutually agreeable process,” Tucker said.

A statement issued this week by Tom Perry, Marietta College’s executive director of strategic communications and marketing, said the college has been working with the mayor’s office and city council for more than a year on the issue.

“We are pleased with the progress that has been made up to this point, and college officials are optimistic that an acceptable resolution will be reached,” Perry said. “We are focusing on collaborative solutions and have not discussed, nor have we considered, legal action.”

Once the offers are presented to the property owners, they have 30 days to review them and respond. The project is being funded mostly with state money and is expected to be put out for bid in March. Tucker said the project is running close to its original timetable, and the plan is to have everything completed next year.

Another entity that will feel the impact of the project is the Marietta Morning Rotary, which maintains the garden at the intersection that includes greenery spelling out the city’s name. The garden will have to be shifted, something that is expected to cost about $30,000, included in the overall project price.

Morning Rotary member David Haas isn’t a fan of the project itself, believing adjustments to the traffic lights could cut down on congestion, but he’s not overly concerned about the impact on the garden, he said.

“What we decided to do is move everything back,” he said. “I’m pretty well satisfied that they’re going to get us back to something we can live with.”