German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Third Street only first step in Villagewide improvements

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This current shot of Third Street shows a need for all of the improvements covered in the UIRF and Jeffrey Endowment Fund grants, from utility and sign cleanup to news rack containment and sidewalk and road rebricking.

The front page of the Jan. 10 edition of the ThisWeek German Village Gazette last week featured a story on our outlook for 2013, and the headline is all about Third Street.

I've taken some very good questions since the piece ran, so I thought I'd share some insight here.

Third Street acts both as kind of a Main Street to German Village and as our main artery to downtown Columbus.

It is the gateway that welcomes our visitors coming from downtown and the interstate.

With that in mind, it makes some sense to concentrate our improvement and preservation efforts along Third.

The first thing you should know is, Third Street will only be the first step -- the incubator -- for best practices and standards we apply over time to the rest of the district.

The Third Street Master Plan, you will probably recall, is a creation 15 years in the making.

The Streetscape Committee garnered community input, worked with a professional urban design company and then advanced our Master Plan to the Columbus' Urban Infrastructure Renewal Fund grant process.

We hope to hear as soon as this month whether we will be awarded city dollars to do an engineering study and move the plan MUCH closer to fruition.

As a quick refresher, the Third Street elements that make up the UIRF request are: replacing and restoring limestone curbs, which allows a number of safety improvements including proper drainage and sidewalk repair; adding pedestrian lighting; cleaning up utility lines and poles; consolidating signage to cut down on driver distractions, as well as restoring the historic look of sign posts and improving way-finding.

Bricks streets are on our long-term wish list for the project. When the asphalt paving is at the end of its life (perhaps in as little as 10 years), the German Village Society would like to rebrick Third Street and add bike lanes.

Think of Third Street as the guinea pig. Once we learn how to best complete these projects along Third, we have a template -- and likely a real thirst and passion -- for applying those standards to Sycamore, Reinhard, Thurman, Macon and the rest.

What am I trying to say? Third Street is the beginning -- not the end.

We aren't choosing Third Street INSTEAD of Sycamore, we're just choosing it first.

Another element of the Third Street Master Plan -- but one that is NOT a part of the UIRF request -- is street furniture.

We have already garnered a grant from the Joseph A Jeffrey Endowment Fund to make our first foray.

The primary goals of the Streetscape Committee related to street amenities were to first look at developing a long-term vision for the implementation of future streetscape amenities and then secondly to select, design and install one of these amenities.

The list of future streetscape amenities includes the following items: planters, newspaper racks, fences, bike racks, benches, waste receptacles and kiosks. The Jeffrey Endowment Fund money will allow us to create the first news rack.

What you might like to know, related to the news rack project, is:

* The committee is aware and has researched the news racks you see downtown. They've determined that option isn't a good fit for The Village.

* The committee has received conceptual approval for the news rack from the German Village Commission.

* The committee is working with the city permit departments to make sure the racks are in compliance.

* The committee is researching things such as upkeep, insurance, distance from the curb and other nitty-gritty items that must be understood before we proceed.

* The committee is working with news vendors to ask whether every existing stand is still in use, and if so, whether we can garner the publisher's compliance with our new racks.

These street amenities, too, will proceed from Third Street to other parts of the neighborhood.

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village notebook.

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