CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – Visitors who frequent the shopping area in the heart of historic Centerville will be seeing changes to parking, traffic congestion, and more if a new community action plan is implemented.
In June, the City of Centerville announced their new Uptown Action Plan. The plan focuses on economic and infrastructure changes that address the concerns of the community as well as drive new business and traffic to the area.
The Uptown area is more commonly known as the Architectural Preservation District in the area surrounding State Route 48 and Franklin Street. The district is home to over 100 businesses.
The historic area has struggled to keep up with the increased flow of car and foot traffic, often resulting in congestion and limited parking options. The city said this plan is a way to address those concerns as well as to develop the area for new businesses.
The plan – which is available for public review – was assembled by a Centerville stakeholder committee representing business and property owners, Town Hall Theater, Centerville Washington History, Centerville High School students, Centerville Board of Architectural Review, and the Centerville Planning Commission.
The city also brought in outside facilitators to ensure that all of the plans being drawn up by the stakeholder committee were actionable.
“The action plan itself is a starting point for the discussion,” said Centerville’s Economic Development Administrator Michael Norton-Smith. “We look at this as an opportunity to get feedback from the community because our intention is to implement a good portion of the strategies outlined in the document.”
City officials said that the next step for the plan is to take the plan from the drafting stages into the official strategy for the city going forward. The plan will go through the approval process, followed by a planning commission, and ultimately be decided by the City Council.
The city is encouraging community members to reach out during these phases of implementation, so that the boards can properly address community concerns before the plan is finalized.
The plan will be presented for approval by the planning commission on July 30th and is tentatively scheduled for approval by City Council on August 19th. Both of these meetings offer citizens the opportunity to provide comments and feedback about the Uptown Action Plan.
If community members cannot attend these meetings, city officials are also encouraging phone calls, messages on the cities’ Facebook site, or any other method of communication.
The plan breaks a variety of community projects into different sections that can be addressed by the city as necessary. The plan is not a single-cost project that must be approved in one large bill. Instead, the plan breaks down a variety of community improvements that will be implemented over proceeding years as they are individually approved and financed.
The costs of these projects is still unknown. City officials said that there are no plans for a tax increase, although they are keeping a variety of options open.
“Going forward,” said Norton-Smith, “it is an open conversation depending on what strategies we take [on funding]. There will be some cost that the city will likely incur for some of the improvements.”
The city hopes that most of the cost for improvements will be taken into account by each year’s budget for the city. If they are necessary, grants, fundraising, and donations are still an open possibility.
Norton-Smith emphasized that the city is currently focusing on the planning and what improvements are the most effective. “The revenue discussion is a little bit down the road,” he said.
Key elements of the plan focus on improving traffic and parking in the area.
After taking an open survey in February, the city heard from citizens and business-owners that the biggest problem that needed to be addressed was traffic and parking around the surrounding businesses. Parking and bringing in new business were often found to be the biggest concerns.
Other findings from the survey are available in the report or viewable in the slide below:
“One thing that came out of the planning process was a recognition that the [Franklin and Main Street intersection] is pretty well built out at this point,” said Norton-Smith. “There’s not a whole lot of opportunity for us to widen those major [through roads].”
The Uptown Action plan is seeking to address these concerns in a variety of ways. “Are there ways that we can redesign the parking in those areas to maybe pull people off and improve the flow to those parking areas,” said Norton-Smith.
One suggested idea is to connect the lots the reside behind the buildings. The city believes that is an example of how they can allow traffic to move throughout the businesses without the cars needing to frequently pull out onto the traffic-heavy roads.
In the following video, Norton-Smith expands on how the city is approaching these traffic concerns:
Other elements of the plan include re-branding the district, attracting new businesses, and hosting more public events in the area.
City officials said they are moving quickly to put the plan into action.
“Realistically, especially the short-term strategies,” said Norton-Smith, “we’re looking at ones we can implement very quickly.”
The next step in the process for the city is bringing the drafted plan before the city council on August 19th. Once approved, the draft will then become the official plan for the city moving forward.
For more information on the plan, or if citizens have questions or concerns, reach out to Centerville officials here.