First Impressions completes South Columbus Street ramp, stairs
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Anyone using South Columbus Street in Sunbury over the past several weeks has noticed a First Impressions Lawn & Landscape crew working near the old railroad overpass that now serves as part of Preservation Park’s Big Walnut Trail. The crew has been installing a connection from an existing sidewalk on the west side of Columbus Street to the trail, making it safer for pedestrians to get from one side of the overpass to the other.
When the house and extra lot on the southwest side of the overpass were sold last year they were not inside the village; they were, instead, landlocked Berkshire Township property that had never been annexed.
Neither property had a sidewalk; the existing South Columbus Street sidewalk terminated at the southern edge of the empty lot. As part of annexation and sewer tap negotiations the village agreed to install a sanitary sewer tap for free; the new owner agreed to install a sidewalk as far as the saved tap fee would allow and the village paid for the remainder of the sidewalk to the north edge of the property.
That created another problem. Several hundred feet on new sidewalk also coming to a dead end, and pedestrians still having to step out on the roadway to get to the opposite side.
Village council members agreed that something needed to be done, at least as a temporary fix, and stairs connecting with the Big Walnut Trail seemed to be the best solution. Pedestrians walking north along the west side of South Columbus could use the stairs to access the trail, cross over the road on the trail, and continue north using sidewalks on the east side of the street.
“From my understanding (Sunbury Consulting Engineer) Wes Hall designed the stairs, and then Preservation Parks wanted an ADA ramp,” said First Impressions Senior Manager of Design and Sales Jon Stierhoff. “The handrails are treated wood capped with a two by eight, with an iron pipe detail as a railing. The grade is within federal ADA specifications — it rises 2.5 feet over 30 feet – so it’s wheelchair accessible.”
The switchback ramp surface is a hard-packed gravel, the same surface used on the Big Walnut Trail. Because Preservation Parks owns the railroad overpass and has hinted that it may be removed or revamped at a later date council members elected not to install costly concrete stairs and a ramp that might have to be removed in the not too distant future.
“The surface packs to a virtual concrete like surface, so it will be fine for wheelchairs,” Stierhoff said. “The hillside will be seeded with a fescue blend and meadow mix with some perennial rye mixed in to stabilize the soil. Straw matting will be put down until the hillside vegetation takes root.”
Because 15 trees were removed during the project installation, Stierhoff said the village would plant some evergreens as a buffer.
First Impressions Lawn & Landscape Company and its sister firm, Mulch 1st Landscape Supplies, are located 725 North Kintner Parkway, in Sunbury Industrial Park. The two companies combined have 50 employees.
Stierhoff said First Impressions does design-build landscape projects and landscape maintenance contracts throughout Central Ohio, roughly 60 percent residential and 40 percent commercial. According to its website, First Impressions specializes in snow removal, landscape design and installation, retaining walls and patios, irrigation systems, water features, mowing, fertilization programs, and more.
“We’re pleased to be working in the village of Sunbury, close to our home facility,” Stierhoff said. “We have capable and professional employees who can do all sorts of residential and commercial landscaping work, and it’s always a pleasure to do business with local people.”
First Impressions Lawn & Landscaping is on the Internet at < firstlawn.com >, phone 740–965-6486; Mulch 1st Landscape Supplies is at < mulch1st.com >, phone 740–965-6482.