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Downtown merchants support new parking plan

Merchants overwhelmingly supported the proposed traffic plan for downtown when presented to them this morning by city officials and consultants.

The proposed plan would add reverse-angled parking spaces by reducing the number of driving lanes on parts of Main Street. A median buffer would be installed in some areas between northbound and southbound lanes. Bump-outs at some intersections would make pedestrian crossing shorter and safer. The changes would aim to slow traffic in downtown and reduce crashes.

“I’m a proponent of this,” said Wine Merchant owner Dan Matheny. He called it “fantastic.”

Others among the 50-plus attending agreed.

“I love the idea, love the concept,” said Tim Hamlin, co-owner of Trends on Main.

“This plan is fantastic. It provides for the common good,” said a downtown business advocate. 

He then called for downtown business owners to rally together in support of the plan.

“It’s incumbent upon everyone here to not let a hysterical minority submarine this and that could easily happen,” he said.

He and other business owners want to erase a perception that Marathon Petroleum is pushing the plan.

“I hate hearing it tied to the Marathon plan, for their growth. I don’t want people to think it was being dictated by Marathon,” Matheny said. “I want people to realize it’s coming from downtown businesses.”

City Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer agreed, but said Marathon is inextricably linked to the proposal. Findlay will apply the $80 million Marathon is spending for two office buildings and two parking garages downtown to its financial matching requirements in order to receive $2 million from the state for the downtown traffic proposal.

“I understand (Matheny’s) comment. It is not Marathon’s project. It is a downtown project, but Marathon’s project is a huge impetus to drive funding for the (downtown) project,” Schmelzer said.

“We have a great opportunity to do this with little to no impact on our tax base,” Mayor Lydia Mihalik said. “This is perfect. This is perfect timing. That’s why we’re talking about it now. The catalytic projects we are having downtown are allowing us to have this discussion.”

Videos of today’s meeting are available on The Courier’s website at www.thecourier.com, and at www.downtownfindlay.com.

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