By Kevin Kelley
When driving around the Westshore, do you notice when you leave one city and enter another?
When, and if, the update to Fairview Park’s master plan is fully implemented, you’ll notice when entering that community.
A committee of 19 city officials and community volunteers has been working for nearly a year with consulting firm City Architecture to develop the master plan, which will identify community goals and development objectives for the next five to 10 years. A draft of the master plan report is expected to be completed by the end of this month, said Alex Pesta, an architect with City Architecture.
Pesta and Kat Keller, another City Architecture employee, presented a preview of the report to master plan committee members Oct. 25. Their slide presentation focused on four areas of the city – the four major directional entrances to the city and the downtown area.
The committee decided establishing a marketing campaign for the downtown area, defined as Lorain Road between West 210th and 220th streets, and creating citywide signage were top priorities.
Under proposals shown by Pesta and Keller, the city’s northern gateway at Westgate shopping center would include signage “celebrating” the entrance to Fairview Park and directing people to various attractions within the city, such as the Gemini Center and downtown area. Similar signage could help better define the dividing line between Fairview Park and North Olmsted, which Keller said was difficult to identify.
Pesta said the greatest opportunity for transformation was at the eastern gateway, namely at the intersection of Lorain and Story roads. Pesta suggested that a median with landscaping be added to make crossing the street safer there, and that the trail to the Metroparks be better promoted.
A priority should be given to identifying the downtown area through a series of boulevard banners, Pesta said.
“Market the heck out of downtown Fairview Park,” he said.
Pesta also suggested that the city explore acquiring property, should it become available, along Lorain Road in front of the Gemini Center. Such property would be used as green space so the city could better showcase the recreation center and the adjacent Fairview Park Branch Library and Fairview High School, so they would be seen more as a “civic campus.”
City Architecture also recommended that the city develop a multimodal transportation system incorporating pedestrians, bicyclists and bus riders, as well as drivers. Such a plan might involve adding bicycle lanes to sidewalks, Pesta said.
An as yet unanswered question is how the suggestions to be made in the master plan will be paid for.
“Some of those things are really wonderful, but they’re also very expensive,” said Jim Kennedy, the city’s development director.
The published master plan will identify potential funding sources for such suggestions, Pesta said. Often, tackling inexpensive improvements, or “low-hanging fruit,” can get the ball rolling for larger-scale efforts, he added.
It’s likely the city would pursue grants for recommended improvements. Indeed, a $30,000 Community Development Block Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and awarded by the county, paid for City Architecture’s consultant fee.
The next step will be for City Architecture to send a draft of the master plan to the committee members, who will provide feedback by e-mail. If necessary, another committee meeting will be held to discuss the draft. City Architecture officials will formally present the plan at a public meeting, probably early next year.