By JOY BROWN
Findlay City Council is methodically approving the closing of streets and alleys for projects that will eventually alter access and traffic patterns in three parts of the city.
Council this week gave third and final readings to legislation to vacate streets and alleys for Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s construction project.
It also heard the first readings of ordinances that will vacate an alley next to the Findlay-Family YMCA, and vacate streets so the University of Findlay can construct a football and lacrosse stadium.
Marathon won approval of these street closings:
- East Hardin Street from South Main to East streets;
- Beech Avenue from East Sandusky to East Lincoln streets;
- The north/south alley from East Hardin to East Lincoln streets.
Marathon said it intends to keep the vacated portions of Beech and East Hardin open “as thoroughfares through the campus,” but changes will eventually be made “to create a more pedestrian-friendly campus with traffic-managed streetscapes.”
The university has requested vacations of the following alleys and streets:
- West Foulke Avenue between Morey Avenue and Cory Street. The university intends to close it and remove 85 percent of it from the middle to accommodate the stadium, leaving an entrance to the Quonset parking lot from Cory Street on the east end, and an entrance to the 349 Trenton Ave./Oiler Point parking lot from Morey on the west end.
- The north/south alley between West Trenton and West Foulke avenues, which is the first alley east of Morey Avenue. The university said it will keep the alley open “and have a modified use to accommodate Hawley Chiropractic and the university parking needs between 341 to 349 Trenton Ave. and Oiler Point student housing.”
- The north/south alley between West Trenton and West Foulke avenues, which is the first alley west of Cory Street. It will be closed and removed to make room for the stadium.
- The north/south alley between West Trenton and West Foulke avenues, which is the second alley east of Morey Avenue. It will be closed and removed.
Groundbreaking for the 5,000-seat, open-air stadium is slated for late May or early June, the university said.
The YMCA at 300 E. Lincoln St. and Central Church of Christ at 307 E. Hardin St. are requesting a partial vacation of the east-west alley that runs between them.
YMCA Executive Director Brent Finley said the organizations want to close the alley for safety reasons.
“… Closing the alley jointly with the church provides much safety from frequent traffic between the buildings for kids and families,” Finley said.
This particular vacation could signal the beginning of larger changes that the YMCA has been considering.
Within the past few years, the organization has purchased seven homes on Hardin and Lincoln streets that are close to the organization’s headquarters “to one day prepare for downtown branch expansion,” Finley said.
Plans remain in a conceptual stage, he said. The YMCA website says in 2013, “a new 10-year strategic plan was officially created to lead the YMCA through 2023,” and the “final two” homes were bought for future expansion.
The YMCA may try to capitalize on the adjacent Marathon expansion, which is expected to bring hundreds of additional workers who may be interested in YMCA memberships.
The downtown YMCA last grew in 2001. A total of $7.2 million was invested in the downtown branch expansion. The nonprofit then concentrated on upgrading its east branch, which fully reopened in 2005.