The Canal Winchester Times

City eyes ways to make downtown inviting

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Canal Winchester is hoping to improve the downtown historic district to make it more inviting to pedestrians, cyclists and first-time visitors.

Development Director Lucas Haire said a growing part of the traffic in the historic district is related to new visitors who don't know where to park.

"I'm hearing from the businesses that a lot of the people coming into town are being driven here through online social media -- which means a lot of these people coming in are from out of town and don't know Canal Winchester," he said. "So in particular, we're hearing that people don't know where to park."

Haire said the city is starting to install new, more standardized parking signs that direct visitors to the existing public lots off of High Street and to the new public parking lot behind the McDorman Corvette Museum building.

Besides dealing with vehicle traffic, Haire suggested to Canal Winchester City Council at its May 5 meeting that the city could take advantage of area bicycle traffic and help with sign-post maintenance by installing more bicycle racks.

"We're also looking at getting some more bike racks because we only really have one right now, and lots of people are using sign posts because there isn't anywhere else. We'd like to provide bike parking to encourage bicycling downtown," Haire said.

Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon suggested the city consider purchasing new banners for the light poles to reflect changes in the seasons and possibly to keep visitors informed about upcoming events.

"I think we need to switch up the streetscape with banners," she said. "Even if we could just get them at least at the Waterloo and High Street intersection and at Gender Road, it would look great along with hanging flower baskets.

"That would really set off the downtown and those intersections."

Mershon and Councilman Steve Donahue agreed that freshening up the downtown is a good idea, especially with the new McDorman museum scheduled to open this summer.

"I think the idea of the banners is similar to our talk about getting the viaduct painted and washed up," Donahue said.

"We need to pay attend to the details, like the clock (outside of Town Hall). Just fixing up these little things that maybe we don't always notice, but new visitors will."

Public Works Director Matt Peoples said city officials are continuing to talk with representatives from the Indiana and Ohio railroad company about painting the bridge over Waterloo Street.

The city looked into getting it painted at the same time the water tower gets a new coat of paint, but no agreements have been finalized, he said.

"If we do the viaduct painting at the same time as doing the water tower, it could be as much as $200,000," he said.

According to Peoples, there are several regulatory and insurance-related issues that make painting the railroad bridge more difficult and costly than most projects. The bridge tested positive for lead paint several years ago.

Haire said another option being pursued is installing signs that block the direct view of the viaduct.

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