The German Village Society's streetscape committee has been hard at work making sense of how to create and implement a streetscape plan for Third Street. This process has been long in coming and will continue to be so, but with this determined crew behind it, motivations are kept high and determination to see it through is unrelenting.

The German Village Society's streetscape committee has been hard at work making sense of how to create and implement a streetscape plan for Third Street. This process has been long in coming and will continue to be so, but with this determined crew behind it, motivations are kept high and determination to see it through is unrelenting.

The mission of the streetscape committee is simple: The combination of historic buildings and streetscape defines the historic character of German Village by their physical presence and sense of identity and stability. The streetscape incorporates the public spaces between the buildings, such as the tree-lined streets, alleys and pedestrian walkways. The distinguishing materials, such as brick streets, stone curbs and brick sidewalks are regarded as architectural treasures to be protected.

The goal is to have a plan that can enhance Third Street and then relate to all other streets in the historic district. There have been professionals involved at every step along the way and the committee has, at this point, I think, considered dozens and dozens of options and alternatives.

There have been large-scale public meetings, monthly smaller-group committee meetings and plan after plan to review. The society has shared its collection of historic photographs to help professional planners determine what makes the most sense for street furniture, lighting, etc. (No surprise there it's the stuff that's been in the village all along.)

More than anything, the streetscape plan will give us a tangible framework for what we should set our sights on for the future. Will we need additional funding? You bet. But at least we'll have a shared and clearly understood plan for how any monies raised will be spent.

This is collaborative planning at its best, grassroots volunteer committee work getting something done and having staff members determined to apply for city funding and review requests for proposals.

Committee membership has changed, but the goal has remained the same and kept us on track, thanks in very large part to dedicated leadership from committee chair Brian Santin.

The next very important step is a meeting March 2 with Yolita Rausch, a historic preservation consultant from Cleveland who has long been a friend to the village. She has been instrumental in helping us understand what makes the most sense for our neighborhood from a preservation planning perspective.

Having a preservationist involved at this juncture is important because it is critical that anything newly introduced to Third Street will need to complement and respect the historic structures and street.

In fact, I would be so bold as to say that the very best plan won't introduce too many new features at all and may not even be that noticeable to residents. It would merely enhance what we already have and make things seem a little easier, a little more attractive and a little more organized, but without anything blatantly declaring that.

My great hope is that our plan, our vision and the hard work put in by the streetscape committee comes to fruition in a way that honors the tradition that is German Village. I really believe it will.

For more information about the streetscape committee and the Third Street plan, visit www.germanvillage.com and review the committee's page on the site.

Jody Graichen is director of Historic Preservation Programs for the German Village Society.