By LOUIS WYATT
LEO-CEDARVILLE — Lack of access for first responders has spurred a debate over whether or not to reopen a section of Main Street that has, for years, been closed to traffic by guardrails. Opening the section of road would create a thoroughfare in what is now referred to as Beulah Drive, extending Main Street through to Walnut Street.
Main Street is already on the town’s street inventory and is scheduled for resurfacing at an estimated cost of $157,300. Reopening and extending the roadway would cost an additional $30,500, Town Manager Patrick Proctor said during a Leo-Cedarville Town Council meeting June 4.
Proctor said the rationale for extending Main Street is to provide better access for firetrucks. Council member Scott Connally said ambulance access is lacking as well, and added that a resident on the street recently suffered a heart attack and had to be wheeled down the street on a stretcher because the ambulance couldn’t get close enough to his house.
Since the road has been blocked off, a resident has constructed a sidewalk in the space, and extending Main Street would mean removing part of a resident’s landscaping, which Proctor said could be an issue and may require an agreement with the homeowner.
Proctor said the road would be fairly close to residents’ houses as well, which could upset homeowners.
“We’d be taking out some landscaping and a strip of land they’ve been using as a yard, and I think they’re going to be upset about it … In my opinion, you don’t need to take the whole street,” Proctor said.
Though he sympathized with those homeowners, council member Chris Adams said he was in favor of the extension.
“I still like the idea of that being a thoroughfare for safety — that’s just my opinion,” he said.
While repaving the closed off section of Main Street would cost the town an extra $30,000, Proctor said the council could pursue it as a Community Crossings Matching Grant project, which would allow the town to pay for 75 percent of the construction costs with federal aid.