By Sue Botos
Westlake may have Crocker Park, but Rocky River will soon have it’s own “town center” which will include a dash of historical flavor.
“We want to create a destination Main Street and really honor our historical downtown,” said Mayor Pam Bobst at last week’s City Council special legislative session. Council passed an ordinance giving the go-ahead for work on the Old Detroit Road streetscape project, which is to begin this week. The plan will transform the road between West 192nd Street and Old Lake Road into more of a community gathering place, which Bobst said is hoped to add more vitality to the area.
The city was awarded $100,000 in community block grant funds for the work and will contribute $175,000. Included in the facelift will be on-street parking on the north side, landscaping, ornamental lampposts, seating and bike racks. The ultimate goal is to increase traffic safety and make the area more pedestrian friendly for residents and shoppers.
Giving a brief history of the project, Bobst said that, when designing the city master plan in 2005, Old Detroit was cited as a major area for development. “It really speaks to what the community cares about,” said Bobst, adding that the area will reflect a balance between its historic past, which features the original City Hall, and the present.
In 2008, a group of stakeholders met with architects to review goals for the project.
“We looked at improving elements which are easy to maintain. This is the first of what we hope will many phases,” said Bobst, referring to the possibility of extending the themed improvements to Linda Street and Lake Road. Signage will connect to other shopping in the area such as Beachcliff Market Square.
Parking is a major concern, which Bobst said will be addressed with an overhaul of the lot behind the buildings on the north side of the street, with consideration for lighting and safety. This area will primarily be used by employees.
Bobst had previously indicated business and property owners were getting anxious for the work to begin, hoping to have it completed in time for most of the nicer weather. Due to an initial overbid, the start of the project was delayed. Answering a question by Ward 1 Councilman Tom Hunt, Bobst said the schedule for construction by 21st Century Constructio should take 90 to 120 days, with workers on site four days per week, 10 hours per day.
“We’ll provide special assistance on weekends,” Bobst said, noting patrons of area restaurants and shoppers will be able to park safely in the construction zone.
Heavy equipment will not be stored on site according to Bobst, who explained that a nearby city-owned lot would be used as a construction staging area. She said that as with the Lake Road project, the city’s Ron Gottschalk will serve as liaison between the city, businesses and residents. Updates on the work will be posted on the city website at www.rrcity.com.