Westerville is considering changes to the streetscape of the busiest part of Uptown, and it is asking residents for their input.

Instead of its regular street maintenance on State Street in Uptown, city staffers -- at the request of City Council -- are taking the opportunity to test the waters of improvements that could come to the streetscape between Park and Home streets in Uptown.

The city is entering the public-input portion of preparation, and will present three options to residents, all of which would widen sidewalks by two feet improve sewers and drainage and meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Option A is the most basic alternative, and proposes simple additions such as a painted crosswalk and improved sidewalks.

Option B builds on the first alternative, adding curb "bump-outs" designed to slow traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. This option would likely result in the loss of 17 parking spaces compared to Option A.

Option C is the most radical design. It would widen sidewalks by seven feet between College Avenue and Home Street, adding brick crosswalks and the bump-outs. The third alternative would yield 30 fewer parking spaces compared to Option A.

Kimberly Sharp, deputy director of planning and development, said she hopes the public-input process will give residents a sense of having a hand in the project, which will be catered to the desires of residents, visitors and business owners.

"We're definitely open to creative problem-solving," she said. "We're open to many different things."

Assistant City Manager Julie Colley said different opinions on the project exist even among staff members, but she prefers the options that go further to cater to pedestrians.

"We probably all have different ideas," she said. "There are certainly opportunities to create space in Uptown that adds to all of the spaces we've already created. I think this is an opportunity to make Uptown even more pedestrian-friendly."

City staff members are aware that any loss of parking spaces can be contentious, but Sharp said she hopes people will see the benefits of the plans that would result in lost parking, and hopes other recently added spaces can help offset any that would be lost.

"We want to emphasize that 200-plus spaces have been added over the last couple of years," Sharp said. "We're just going to keep adding parking where we can."

And if the parking concerns are too much for some people, their thoughts will be taken into account.

"None of this has been decided," she said. "It's a conversation."

The first public open house will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at the Westerville Municipal Building, 21 S. State St.

After a period of public input, city staff will prepare a presentation for city council at a September meeting.

There is not yet a set budget for any of the options. Construction would likely happen in late 2019, with design and engineering taking place in 2017 and 2018.

More specific figures will be available when an option is chosen.

For more information, visit Westerville.org.

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