shelter

Clearing the Way

Amid controversy over economic consequences and the displacement of residents, the new U.S. Highway 33 Nelsonville Bypass continues towards completion.

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Shelton:

This project has been talked about for like a long time, and some people have said forty years. Some people have said fifty years, and for a long time it's gone back and forth about the positives and the negatives that are happening to it.

G. Moleski:

When they started blasting it was a horrible noise level. It knocked the mirrors in the bathroom loose from the wall.

Shelton You can control what you can control, and thats what we're trying to make this a positive for Nelsonville, instead of just saying "Ah! Well its the end of the world, and we're being bypassed."

Kelch:

I think that the highways have been maybe disrespected or neglected, especially in this corridor down here in Southeast Ohio. 33 is important to this area. The more of it thats four lane, I think the better.I've lived here all my life, so i'm quite familiar with the area.You see Athens at the lower end, and then coming up to Nelsonville. And just about every 10 or 12 miles you have another little village or city.So you have Athens, and Nelsonville, and up to Logan, on up to Lancaster, and then jumping then on up to Columbus from there. People may be a little mixed up about Nelsonville. "What's its identity?"

Shelton People:

Who are there want to be there, and they are very engaged in their community.

Kelch:

They really want to be a vibrant place, you can feel that that there's a lot of pride in the community.

Kelch:

You know, I don't want to be discourteous to anybody that hates the idea of having 33 pulled out of their city, but I think, after time, they'll adjust to it in a positive way and find that good can come from it. Anytime imminent domain comes in, there are people whose feelings are going to be hurt. Hopefully, they've been compensated fairly. I think the state tries to make appropriate offers.

G. Moleski:

The 33 bypass will make it safer because of the semi tractor-trailers going around town rather than through town. I think it'll also make it better for Nelsonville, because their streets won't be torn up and they wont have so much expense as they have now. It's very dangerous to pull out of the driveway out here, and on this 33 and there's been 13 people killed right out front here.

G. Moleski:

The first thing i said to ed was, "Did you read it?" "No, I didn't read it." [laughs] He just signed it. And I said well Ed, you can't do that.

Ed Moleski

Let's see. How long we been here? [Gabriella in background: We moved over here...] 25 years or 30? [...73 we moved over here.] Yeah. Okay, since 73. [Ed to dog: Hey. Stop it.]

G. Moleski:

It was really a pretty piece of property, and now it's nothing. There's nothing there, but a bunch of rocks and swales and that's it.

Ed Moleski:

They paid us $2100 for the back, and then they ended up coming and taking all of my property. I'm stuck with this place, and I can't get rid of it, cause the value is down on it, cause I got a highway on both sides of me.

G. Moleski:

The assessments will go down on it. The taxes will go up, and we still pay taxes on that piece of crap back there.

Ed Moleski:

They should be able to compensate me for the damages, what they done, and took my property really. It's kind of rough on an old man like me.

G. Moleski:

I went down to their office to talk to them, and they wanted to know "Who are you?", and I said, "I own part of this property. Half of its mine." They didn't care. It wasn't... It didn't bother them any. I mean, why would it? They're getting paid to do what they're doing.

Kelch:

You know, it's hard to be uprooted. I know that's very difficult to be uprooted. Luckily, we weren't affected by that, but I would understand that the state had to do it, you know. As long as they made an appropriate offer, you know, we could find another piece of property and rebuild, but, you know, I would hate it. Sure I would hate it, but I'd also know that later on when I was driving down that highway, I'd sure be happy to know that I was on that new four lane.

Kelch:

I got to see that from a very early perspective in my life, about how a highway can change a city. We've always had 33 going through the city of Nelsonville, just like it used to go through the city of Logan. Logan would just be blocked up completely. I was so happy when they put that highway in up there. It made a huge difference. But I feel from my experience with the Logan bypass and seeing the effects of the Lancaster bypass, which people should be able to look up the highway and see those. They haven't really hurt either community.

Shelton:

I think, since the project was slated to go forward, people have just accepted that it's going to happen. So, I think they have a can-do attitude to kind of take the approach, that, "If this is going to happen,then how can we be proactive about it? How can we make sure that our businesses are still going to, you know, going to succeed here?"

Kelch:

Some people would say, "Well Nelsonville is dead, and, like a lot of these little villages in Southern Ohio, they're all just dying. But Nelsonville strives for more than that. You survive or fail based on what you have to offer, and it has nothing to do with people who are just randomly passing through. Thats never going to be your draw. You cant grab them out of these cars at 65 miles an hour and say, "I want to tell you about this city, you know. It's got some really great things I'd like you to explore and understand and appreciate." They're not going to get those people. If they're thinking of moving into this area and having their children here, they want good schools, good highways, and hopefully a job to go to. So, I think those all play hand in hand. You can't separate them.

Shelton:

The things that happen in Nelsonville happen because people are very much engaged in the community, and thats why the community, no matter if they put up 10 bypasses, will always be strong, because of the fact that people who are there are committed to making it a great place to live and work.

Kelch:

All those little pieces of highway, when they get connected some day, eventually get connected in a proper way, and I can envision that, and i can imagine what that would be like. Although it's just a little bit of highway, it makes a big difference.

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Clearing the Way