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Reynoldsburg begins to make plans for downtown's future
Olde Reynoldsburg may have a new look in the upcoming years.
A steering committee made up of residents and business owners has been working on a plan to revitalize Olde Reynoldsburg, with plans including better signage, easier access to the historic district, more parking, and an overall brand that will bring the community together and create more revenue for the area.
The Olde Reynoldsburg Strategic Planning Committee first met on this project in June 2010. Since then, Development Director Lucas Haire said the development department staff has been compiling data and working on aspects of the plan, which builds on previous efforts from the Olde Reynoldsburg Main Street Revitalization Plan adopted in 1995.
Portions of that plan were implemented, including new sidewalks, street lights, landscaping and utility relocation that took place in 1996.
Haire said since that time, however, there has not been a big push in the community to focus on Olde Reynoldsburg.
A new plan, still in its preliminary stages, examines new options on how the downtown area can be better utilized.
“We are working on a strategic plan, which provides specific steps that could be taken in order to fulfill that vision,” said Matt Hansen, Reynoldsburg planning administrator. “It takes a look at potential land use and development opportunities that will enhance Olde Reynoldsburg, as well as simple steps to heighten Olde Reynoldsburg’s presence within the community.”
Haire said this plan will be used as a tool to guide city council members and city administrators on land use decisions as development is proposed. This plan also sets forth marketing strategies to market the Olde Reynoldsburg area as a district and to attract new businesses.
As part of the plan, steering committee members conducted interviews with local residents and business owners to see what they felt needed to change to make the downtown area more visitor friendly.
The number one concern - parking.
Haire said interviewers complained that there was not enough parking and did not think a new business would be willing to locate to an area that has little to no parking.
Ideas outlined in the plan, which will be presented to city council in March or April, include adding both car and motorcycle spaces. The plan also shows Main Street’s speed limit being reduced from 35 to 25 mph, making it safer for pedestrians and patrons who want to park on the street.
Residents and business owners who were interviewed also said signage should be added in the downtown area. According to the plan, some said, "You didn’t even know you were in Olde Reynoldsburg."
Haire said the steering committee wants to create a marketing brand to unite Olde Reynoldsburg so visitors know they are in the historical district.
The city wants to support existing businesses, as well as encourage new retail businesses toward the original historic core between Blacklick Creek and Cypress Alley.
“Hopefully business owners will buy into the vision that is presented in the plan and want to expand or locate their business in Olde Reynoldsburg,” he said.
Changes that attract new businesses will benefit the city as a whole, he said.
“New businesses locating there will bring new revenue to the community through expanding the tax base,” Haire said. “If the vision is achieved, it will also significantly enhance the quality of life in the community, which will help attract new residents and businesses to areas of the city outside of Olde Reynoldsburg.”
With Blacklick Creek as the area’s most significant natural feature, the plan promotes creating more accessibility to the water way.
According to the plan, “pocket parks” would enhance the look of the area, enticing more businesses - possibly ones with outdoor dining options - to downtown.
Although the downtown is the main focus of the study, the plan breaks the city center up into three areas of new development or redevelopment: the Main and Lancaster intersection in the historic district, East Main Street and the Olde Towne Center, and Olde Reynoldsburg South.
The plan calls for making all parts of the district more accessible to the community by foot and bike, which means including sidewalks on both sides of the street, street trees, pedestrian-scaled lighting and seasonal plantings.
Because the plan is still in the preliminary stage, Haire said it will not be presented to city council until at least March or April.
He also said because it is a strategic plan, it makes recommendations only for improvements - not funding. Haire said it is possible some of the projects, if approved, may have to funded by the private sector.
When the plan is proposed to council, Haire said council members will decide the priority of changes to be made, as well as how to go about funding them.
“This plan will make the city better by providing a long term vision for Olde Reynoldsburg,” Haire said. “This was the original village, and this was the extent of Reynoldsburg for over 100 years of its existence.”
Members of the steering committee, which has formed the Olde Reynoldsburg Strategic Plan, were selected by Reynoldsburg Mayor Brad McCloud and Haire. Members of the committee include residents and business owners within Olde Reynoldsburg.
Members of the steering committee include Matt Hansen, Lucas Haire, Barth Cotner, Shannon Mills, Raymond Butler, Monica Debrock, Linda Winters, Michele Slonaker and Roger Madison.
“Olde Reynoldsburg is the heart of the city,” Haire said. “This vision has been created from community input from residents and business owners. It sets a plan for how this part of our community can best be utilized to make it a unique destination that the community can be proud of and identify with as Reynoldsburg.”
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