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Ravenna residents slam new signal boxes

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published: March 15, 2013 4:00 AM
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Diana Kane takes pains to make sure her 170-year-old house at the corner of Prospect Street and Riddle Avenue in Ravenna retains its historic appearance.

But a large box on her tree lawn, necessitated by the city's new traffic signals, is obstructing the view.

"It didn't really hit me until I was going from north to south," she said. "It just obliterates the view of the house. If they knew these were going to be so big and ugly, why didn't they put them across the street?"

The metal box on a concrete base, similar in size and shape to a monument, stands tall on the Riddle Avenue tree lawn beside Kane's house. Similar boxes are stationed throughout the city. The signals are expected to start going live in about two months.

City officials say the boxes hold the battery backup, ensuring that traffic signals won't go out in the event of a power outage.

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City Engineer Bob Finney said he believes the engineers who designed the signal at Prospect and Riddle put the box on Kane's side because that was the original location of the electronics, and said the power pole there provides a measure of protection.

At the intersection of Freedom and Main, the city purchased right of way to move the signal behind the sidewalk. Doing so in every case would add to the expense of the project.

"In the neighborhoods, safety is a concern, but safety is a concern with any power pole or traffic signal," he said.

Kane's home is directly across the street from an insurance agency located in a renovated home. On the north side of the intersection is First United Methodist Church of RAvenna and directly north of Kane's home, there is a parking lot for the church. There were previously trees and shrubs along the edge of the parking lot, and Finney said he believed those were there when the project was first designed.

Kane doesn't dispute the need for new signals, realizing a grant and an energy-saving project through Honeywell made them possible. And she understands that the signal needs to stay operating in the event of an emergency.

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But she says the battery boxes are more than an eyesore. She worries that they could also become a traffic hazard.

"There are horrible accidents at that corner," she said. "I've seen cars end up every direction on this corner. If someone hits that box, they're going to be killed."

Kane, a former member of the Ravenna Heritage Association, which wrote histories of various houses in Ravenna, has a plaque from the organization bearing her home's 1842 construction date. She said the front portion of her house, which boasts the wrap-around porch, is 100 years older than the back of the house. It is known as the house of the Cook and Pickens families, who owned it for many years. Kane has lived there since 1966.

It is just outside the city's downtown historic district, where building improvements are regulated by the Design Review Commission. Kane is a member of that panel.

She said when construction started in the fall, she didn't realize the box would be put there. Then contractors started digging a large hole, and arrived home from a visit out of town to find the box on her tree lawn.

"That thing is huge," she told the contractors. "What's in it?"

Contractors opened the box for her to show her the large batteries inside.

Finney said in addition to the batteries, the box also contains the complex maze of electronics that control the signal. The signals have cameras that determine whether a car is at the intersection and whether the signal needs to change.

"Hindsight is 20/20," he said, noting that Ravenna City Council approved the signal design.

He pointed out that the Ohio Revised Code requires that all signals conform to the state manual. That manual, he said, dictates 12 inch lenses and specifies the height and position of the signals. Another signal prohibits the sale of signals that don't conform to the code.

Councilman Frank Seman said the battery back-up is very important because it ensures that police officers can respond to emergencies in the event of a crisis, rather than directing traffic because a signal has lost power. He said he was "shocked" at the size of the battery boxes, saying, "It's just an imposing thing."

"They're constructing the lights to meet the new standards that we're going to have to meet anyway, and with the Honeywell project, it was the opportune time to do it," he said. "I would have liked to see the historic district looked at beforehand. Once they're up and we get used to them, they'll be all right. But Ravenna is not huge on that kind of change."

Signals on the city's west side are slated to be put up in 2016, sooner if funding becomes available.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

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wolf1 Mar 16, 2013 10:40 AM

Maybe this is the mayors new scheme to get rid of the very few home owners left in that crap hole city.Decent homeowner sells house, city turns into another Coleman apartments and or PMHA. THe pipe line from Cleveland CMHA will be flowing. Thank goodness I only drive through it every so often. With all the degenerates and dope dealers infesting that city, glad I have my CCW. No wonder why its called the county toilet. It needs a big flush.

chasmo Mar 15, 2013 9:51 PM

I have to admit, though, that it's hideous. I wouldn't want it by my house. Wonder why they couldn't put it by the church?

anonymous Mar 15, 2013 6:38 PM

Well leave it to the city government to screw everything up. First, all the business had to come up with money to get the light poles that stay with the theme that down town Ravenna Good Old Boys wanted. They had to be of a certain time period.

Now along come Ravenna and wants to put up new lights, but low and behold they use modern looking poles that stick out like sore thumb.

The great Wizard of Ravenna wants a maintenance code for the homes in Ravenna. We must make them keep up their property regardless of whether they have a job to pay for it or not. After all we can not let the property next door cause me to loose value on my house. So what does the city do they put a big ugly piece of crap right in front of people houses that causes the value of the house to drop $10,000 dollars. No one wants that ugly thing stuck out there. I will bet there is not one of those things in front of the Mayor home.

chasmo Mar 15, 2013 12:11 PM

So basically, one person is slamming the new signals, and she was okay with them until one landed on her devil's strip. And its's not particularly important to her that the lights don't go out; what's important is that you can see her beautiful house!

waynerbabe Mar 15, 2013 11:07 AM

But does it have to look like a huge memorial? There must be another color available.. About the obstructed view for drivers. Why is it the officers that drive these routes everyday never notice that you can't see around the obstacles?

miss_tia Mar 15, 2013 9:46 AM

That box totally obstructs the view of the people who are stopped there! And, wait for it, that's against the ORC to obstruct the line of vision for motorists!! No one could see a vehicle, a pedestrian, bicyclist, child, etc! Who's liable if/when that box is the cause of an accident??

mrm4814 Mar 15, 2013 9:35 AM

Nice comments. No wonder Ravenna has a hard time getting out of the 1900's. Ever wonder why the few smart kids that graduate from Ravenna don't stay? They get the first bus ticket out of town.

Shove a little progress at the folks and see what you get. A lady complaining about a traffic control box grabs front page news. Yeah, I'm sure that box just sent her home value plummeting. Plummeting, I tell You! Plummeting! I guess the old poles with wires dangling all over the intersection were much more aesthetic.


ravennaresident Mar 15, 2013 7:59 AM

I agree whole-heartedly with "anonymous" what an eyesore - large poles - too many lights - not fitting for this "one horse town". Such a beautiful house the Kane's but this huge "storage unit" certainly distracts from it!

ravennaresident Mar 15, 2013 7:54 AM

I whole-heartedly agree with "anonymous" - these are such an eyesore - along with the huge poles and lights - come on for this "one horse town" it just doesn't fit! Way to go "Ravenna". I feel sorry for Mrs. Kane - such a beautiful house - with a huge "cancor" on the corner!

sydney Mar 15, 2013 7:18 AM

Those boxes will cause more accidents, they kill your line of site when watching for some idiot about to run a red light. Ravenna really thought this one through! With the new boxes in place, next year they can layoff some police officers! Won't need them to direct traffic anymore! Glad Ravenna is just a town I have to pass through once in a while!

anonymous_2377 Mar 15, 2013 5:58 AM

Another horrible site is Riddle and Myrtle - overbearing!!! Poles are too large - too many lights - and what looks like a storage unit, what an eyesore. Schools are either gone or going to be closed so why do we need something that is more fitting for a New York City corner? If it is for safety - maybe keeping the signal working 24/7 would have worked... What a waste of funds...... Very upset citizen..........