By Nathan Pilling
BEAVERCREEK — The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority is proposing to alter its bus routes to run through The Greene Town Center, which has Beavercreek City Council members concerned.
The RTA proposal would alter routes 11 and 12 to have buses enter the mall area off Stroop Road, travel in a circuit around The Greene 14 theater (via Glengarry Drive, Chestnut Street and Beech Street) and then exit back out onto Stroop Road. The RTA proposal would also see a bus pulloff constructed on Chestnut Street on the east side of the theater.
Buses on those routes currently drop off and pick up passengers along Stroop Road – which runs adjacent to the mall area – but don’t enter the confines of the pedestrian shopping mall.
According to RTA spokesman Frank Ecklar, the transit authority is waiting to hear back from the property owner about approving a right of way easement that would be necessary for the bus pulloff to be constructed. Ecklar said RTA has been waiting several months for an answer one way or the other.
Beavercreek Mayor Bob Stone said he had concerns about how a large bus would fit on The Greene’s “neighborhood plat”-sized streets and said he would vote against a proposal for a full-size bus route there. RTA would need city council approval to begin operations at the site.
“[Council members] think it’s also going to be a bit on the hazardous side,” Stone said. “My biggest concern is safety.”
Council member Brian Jarvis echoed those concerns and called the idea of a full-size bus going through those streets “iffy at best.”
Stone and Jarvis also both noted that RTA has smaller buses that currently serve the mall.
Ecklar confirmed the proposed routes would operate using the RTA’s full-size 40-foot buses. He said the RTA would be open to working with the city “on any slight adjustments that might need to be made” at the site but said, “Right now there’s buses that go on the property there at The Greene all the time. Charter buses for instance, go onto the property at The Greene quite often.”
According to Ecklar, the proposal is related to a 2008 lawsuit filed by the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center against Steiner and Associates, the company that owns The Greene. The lawsuit, which was settled in 2012, alleged violations of accessibility requirements in the Fair Housing Act at The Greene. As part of the settlement, Steiner and The Greene agreed to grant an easement and right of way to the RTA for a 99-year term for the operation of public transportation at the proposed route, according to court documents.
According to Ecklar, the proposed route would give accessibility to the mall not provided by RTA’s nearby bus stops on Stroop Road.
“When you get off the bus you’ve got to work your way up that slope [going up Glengarry Drive into the shopping center area],” Ecklar said. “For some, and especially those, maybe not even [with] a wheelchair, but those who aren’t quite as able-bodied as others, it can be a challenge.”
Ecklar said that if the easement was not granted, the RTA would still look at alternative locations within The Greene.
“It’s about access,” he said. “It’s not about just access to folks that live there. It’s access to jobs that exist there as well, and the shopping and entertainment that exists.”
According to a recent memo written by Beavercreek Public Administrative Services Director Mike Thonnerieux, the city and RTA have “discussed a few other alternate stops and locations, however there are no other viable locations under consideration at this time.”
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.