Questions arise over rock-climbing

LISBON — A rock-climbing organization wants to swap out the pitons in the rock face of the old stone quarry in town, and seeking the village’s permission could inadvertently result in the area being declared off limits.

Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner reported at this week’s Village Council meeting she had been contacted by the Ohio Rock Climbers Association, which wanted permission to replace the pitons at the stone quarry located between the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail and the Sunset Drive area above.

Pitons are metal pins driven into a rock face for use as anchors by climbers to hook onto, and the organization claims some of the pitons date back 50 years and need to be replaced. They also say some of the pitons are on the portion of the rock face that is on village property, which is why council’s permission is being sought by the organization in exchange for permission to continue climbing there.

Mayor Joseph Morenz did not believe any of the old stone quarry lies within the village, but Wonner said the map produced by the organization indicates otherwise. “I’d like to see that map,” he said.

Officials said they should also contact the village’s insurance carrier, and Council President Roger Gallo suggested even if the quarry is not within village limits they require climbers sign a waiver relieving the village of any liability should an accident occur.

Village Solicitor Megan Bickerton said that may not be enough to satisfy the insurance carrier once it is alerted a portion of the quarry is village property and it is being actively used by rock climbers, which it has been for decades.

“There’s a lot of people who climb there and I’d hate to see that stop,” said Councilman Vito DiIullo.

In other action, the 2018 village budget was passed by council on the first of three required readings. Wonner said the total budget of $3.3 million she prepared is purposely below the revenue estimates received for the year from the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office.

Mayor Morenz updated council on fundraising efforts to erect a new bridge at Willow Grove Park. He said fundraisers and donations have generated $15,500 to date, with the largest being the $10,000 contribution from the company behind demolition of the park’s dam, which was part of settlement with current owners of a Salem-area chemical company responsible for contaminating a section of Middle Fork of the Little Beaver Creek.

Morenz believes this is enough for them to begin approaching engineering firms about coming up with an affordable design for a new bridge that would replace the one swept away in the 2004 flash flood. All of this hinges on the village being able to secure a grant, with the donations used as matching funds.

“We are on our way to getting a bridge,” he said.

Street Supervisor Jim Oliver reported part-time street employee Jason Brione has resigned. Applications will be taken at village until Dec. 1, with council expected to hire a replacement at its Dec. 12 meeting.