Last week, members of Ohio University’s Student Senate found what they considered a “magic bullet” in the debate with opening Bobcat Lane. The excerpt of city code the senators referred to, however, may only apply to residential subdivisions, according to City of Athens officials.
Bobcat Lane would connect Baker University Center’s Oxbow Trail to Richland Avenue. Since its construction in 2008, it has yet to be opened to Richland Avenue traffic.
Historically, university and city officials have held differing opinions about the lane, either wanting it open or not open, respectively.
The portion of Athens city code that senators found interesting last week, under chapter 21.05.10, reads as follows: “Permanent dead-end streets shall not be permitted.”
Since Chapter 21 of the Athens’ City Code is entitled “Subdivisions Regulations,” the city’s safety service director Paula Horan-Moseley said the excerpt wouldn’t apply to the area in which Bobcat Lane is located.
The city’s code defines a subdivision as a “division or allocation of land as open spaces for common use by owners, occupants or lease holders” etc.
Senate plans to continue to look into the matter, said Chris Wimsatt, chairman of Student Senate’s “Why No Oxbow” task force.
“I look forward to further exploring this terrific find,” he said. “I think this could be our magic bullet to finally getting the ball rolling and open Bobcat Lane.”
Senate would plan to present to Athens City Council if it found the evidence necessary to open discussion with the city concerning the lane, Wimsatt added.
Though senate President Kyle Triplett said he is unsure of the city’s definition of a dead-end, he is looking forward to the discussions with university administrators and city officials this argument sparks.
“It’s definitely a discussion that needs to take place,” Triplett said. “(Senate) doesn’t expect immediate results, but nothing bad ever came out of a discussion.”
In regards to anyone challenging the city’s current stance on keeping Bobcat Lane closed, Director of Engineering and Public Works Andy Stone believes the city code speaks for itself.
“Bring it on,” he said.
Ryan Clark and Sara Jerde contributed to this article.