Hamilton creating ‘slip lane’ to improve traffic to Spooky Nook

Construction crews working at the intersection of Main and North B streets have been building a “slip lane” that will give westbound traffic from the High-Main bridge a constant turn lane onto North B to the future Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports complex.

That turn lane is one of the solutions city officials have developed in efforts to alleviate heavy traffic that is expected after the indoor sports complex, which is to be the largest in North America, opens in December of 2021.

In June 2019 the city razed a six-apartment building in the area to make way for the turn lane.

City Manager Joshua Smith on Wednesday noted he met some time ago with CHAPS (Citizens for Historic and Preservation Services) of Butler County, which wanted to prevent demolition of that building, “which I understood,” he said. “I thought it was a neat-looking six-unit apartment, and it did have riverfront access.”

“But as I explained to them at that Saturday morning meeting, it was lose a battle, win a war,” Smith told Hamilton City Council. “The war was Spooky Nook, and preserving the Champion Paper mill, which was the objective that the city was trying to achieve.

“And everyone was already talking about traffic associated with Spooky Nook and how that’s going to function once that’s operational, and our traffic engineers were saying if we could add a slip lane at that location, that would really ease traffic going to the site, especially when you have a lot of cars coming in, say, for a Friday night, during a tournament weekend.”

CHAPS came up at last week’s meeting because the organization created a petition that as of Saturday had gathered more than 650 signatures urging that the double residence at 310-312 Main St. be preserved instead of being demolished to make way for a 50-plus apartment complex that Jim Cohen, who built The Marcum development of apartments, a restaurant and other retail locations wants to build.

Council approved a development agreement and sale of property needed for that project, but Smith said he hoped Cohen and his architects could develop a plan that would create the apartment complex while also preserving the distinctive residence. He said he would make a presentation about how the preservation efforts are going during a September council meeting.

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