Imagine downtown Findlay in the 1960s or 1970s, or even the 1980s. Now, compare that to what it looked like prior to the start of the renovation project earlier this year.
With the exception of different storefronts, one less middle school and a larger Marathon footprint, there isn’t much of a difference.
But change is about to arrive.
The “new” downtown landscape has been taking shape this year at a painfully slow pace for those who must navigate orange barrels and single lanes of travel to go north or south on Findlay’s main artery.
“I know everyone’s patience is worn thin, but we’re almost there,” Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said in a story in Thursday’s Courier.
While “thin” may be an understatement, the downtown construction probably wouldn’t have been so trying if not for all the other construction projects going on at the same time.
As curbs and crosswalks take final form, it may be premature to judge the overall project.
Concerns have been raised about snow removal because of mid-block crosswalks, how big trucks will be able to maneuver reconfigured corners, and if the Halloween parade and other downtown events will need to be relocated.
Time will tell what works and what doesn’t.
One thing, though, seems certain: the new design should accomplish one goal — to slow down traffic on Main Street and make it safer for pedestrians. The bump-outs and mid-block pedestrian crossings should see to that.
There will never be complete agreement on big projects such as the one downtown. Everyone would do something different. Some will insist there is no reason to change anything.
Change can take time to adjust to.
Example: People have gotten used to reverse-angle parking on Crawford Street. Most don’t see it as any big deal, and those who do just park somewhere else.
The bump-outs and midblock crossings, too, may not be universally embraced, either. But they, too, may prove to be no big deal.
City administrators and planners did rework the original plan based on public input. Remember the idea to run reverse-angle parking along Main from Lima Street to Center Street, and make Main one lane in each direction? This is not that.
Findlay, despite its growth, is still a small town that was in need of a facelift. Before concluding whether the redo is right or wrong for the city, give the new Main Street a test drive.
Maybe, just maybe, it will be worth the wait.