Downtown Delaware: Public survey is first step in developing strategic action plan

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek
The city of Delaware, Main Street Delaware and Delaware County are conducting an online survey to develop a strategic action plan to guide the future of downtown Delaware.

A strategic action plan to guide downtown Delaware for years to come is the goal of a process launched by Main Street Delaware, the city of Delaware and Delaware County.

As part of the process, a public survey is underway to collect input about uses of and ideas for the downtown.

The survey is one of two information-gathering steps the city is taking this month. On April 22, the city and the Ohio Department of Transportation have scheduled a session on plans to reconfigure the intersection of U.S. Route 23 and Hull Drive on the city's south side.

The link to the downtown Delaware survey is at mainstreetdelaware.com/community-survey/.

"The goal is to develop a downtown Delaware plan rooted in community values and balanced with today’s market realities," said city community-affairs coordinator Lee Yoakum. "The survey is just one part of the study. The partners will undertake research in phases over four to five months and offer multiple opportunities for the community to weigh in."

"I would just encourage folks to please take the survey because a lot of times we do see people making comments on especially social-media platforms about the downtown on what is needed or what people think they want,” said Susie Bibler, Main Street Delaware executive director. “They have all kinds of ideas, and this is the survey to capture those ideas.”

 Bibler said the survey would approach the downtown's future in an organized way and likely help establish procedures to address specific issues.

The strategic plan will "kind of show us maybe some of the needs, not just things the property and business owners down here need or have seen, but we'll get a really good idea what the community wants from the downtown,” Bibler said.

“It will let us get better feedback on how the community wants to use the downtown," she said. "The point is to make the downtown better (by) having a plan that everyone is familiar with and knows about and has access to. We've had a lot of different viewpoints. Identifying needs in the plan, I think, will definitely help the businesses. It will help the area, the district.

"Another idea is branding for the downtown,” she said. “Who are we? I think the whole purpose of it all is so that everybody is kind of working toward the same direction."

About two years, ago, she said, Main Street Delaware started having quarterly business meetings with downtown property owners.

"When we started meeting, we started looking at the future of the downtown. There were lots of conversations. We talked about how maybe the streetscape is looking a little worn down,” Bibler said. “There are some amenities they had been wanting, like parking for their employees and the people who are using the space in the buildings.

“We had talked about some solutions for when we have events down here and shuttles and all those kinds of things. There's not any green space down here. Some of those things are what we're hoping to address with the plan," she said.

Yoakum said the topic of the April 22 meeting will be a plan to improve safety at Route 23 and Hull Drive.

The goal is to reduce crash rates by modifying the intersection to restrict left turns from Hull Drive onto Route 23. Left turns onto Hull Drive still would be allowed, he said.

"Eighty percent of the intersection crashes between 2017 and 2019 involved vehicles making a left turn from Hull Drive onto U.S. 23 or making a through movement across U.S. 23. Of these, nearly 30% were injury crashes, including one fatality," Yoakum said. "The purpose of the meeting is to explain the overall project, present potential impacts, answer questions and receive input."

The online meeting will be held from 6:30 to7:30 p.m. and will be accessible by logging in at signin.webex.com. The event number is 1572420844, and the password is 232021. The public also may participate by phone at 415-655-0003, code 1572420844.

The meeting also will be streamed live on the city of Delaware’s Facebook page. Facebook comments will be reviewed in the days after the meeting but not during the meeting.

All materials presented during the virtual meeting will be available 48 hours prior to the meeting by going to www.delawareohio.net and clicking on “Access Delaware.” 

In another area traffic-related development, the Delaware County commissioners on April 5 approved an agreement with ODOT to widen and improve the intersection of U.S. Route 36/state Route 37 and Galena Road in Berkshire Township.

County records show ODOT will assume the costs of preliminary engineering and right-of -way acquisition for the Route 36 portion of the project, as well as construction. ODOT's costs are not listed in the resolution approved by commissioners.

The county will pay the costs of right-of-way acquisition and relocating utilities – estimated to cost $650,000 – for the Galena Road portion of the project. The county also will pay construction costs to widen Galena Road, estimated to cost $1 million.

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