People spoke up. Officials listened. A compromise was reached. Government doesn’t always work that way, but it did with Findlay’s downtown traffic plan.
A scaled-back plan was revealed at a public meeting on Monday and, while very different from the original, it should make most happy and keep the project moving forward.
The initial plan called for reverse-angle parking and single traffic lanes for Main Street. The revised one allows for less dramatic changes like “bump-outs,” green medians, and mid-block crosswalks.
An application must be submitted by May for the city to be considered for federal funding through the Ohio Department of Transportation. That grant, and $5 million that Marathon Petroleum Corp. has pledged to contribute, would pay for the bulk of the downtown upgrades, which would begin next year or 2016.
While the extent of the opposition was hard to gauge, some people were upset with the concept of turning downtown Findlay, or at least the portion between the Main Street bridge and Lincoln Street, into a narrow corridor with back-in parking.
Those changes were intended to create more space for parking and to encourage those who only use Main Street as a pass-through to take another route. To accommodate traffic, intersections along Blanchard Street to the east and Western Avenue to the west would be improved.
But the ideas struck a nerve in some, who questioned reverse-angle parking, how emergency vehicles would be able to maneuver a slimmed-down Main Street, and how traffic could flow with increased Marathon employment expected.
In the end, the most controversial components were eliminated and the focus shifted to making downtown more attractive and safer.
While upgrades to Western and Blanchard will still be part of the plan, and a bike path between downtown and the University of Findlay survived, parking isn’t addressed. That’s unfortunate, since the lack of close-by parking is often cited by business owners as a major problem.
City officials could have stuck to their guns, but would have had to spend considerable time and energy defending a plan that may, or may not, have worked in Findlay.
There will be disappointment from those who liked the thought of making downtown a destination, slowing down traffic to cater to businesses, and reverse-angle parking.
We wish the city would have given the latter more consideration, perhaps using Crawford Street or Broadway for a trial. While different than most drivers are used to, we believe many would prefer it to parallel parking once they tried it.
Still, city planners did the right thing by taking a step back. The revised plan shows they heard the complaints.
The compromise should appease the majority of naysayers. It will also permit the city to reload and take a more conservative approach to making downtown more desirable for all those who use Main Street.
Maybe it was just being polite. Maybe it was “Midwestern nice.” Or maybe it was positive reinforcement.
Whatever. But something is a little askew when citizens feel the need to thank elected officials and their agents for hearing them out at a public meeting.
Such was the case at Monday’s meeting on Findlay’s downtown improvement plan at the Findlay Inn & Conference Center.
Denied the opportunity at an earlier meeting, many of those who stood to speak Monday made it their first point, whatever their position, to say, “Thank you for having a question and answer session today.”
No thanks necessary. It’s our First Amendment right “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Even over parking.