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Published: Tuesday, 1/11/2011

Wauseon Web survey on planning for downtown

WAUSEON -- A consultant preparing a plan for reviving Wauseon's downtown is asking the city's residents, businesspeople, and visitors for their opinions through an online survey.

The survey asks respondents how often they shop, dine, or conduct other business in downtown Wauseon, their opinions of what is needed there, how they get information about special events downtown, and how the downtown ranks among other nearby places for shopping and dining.

Glenn Grisdale, principal of Bowling Green-based Reveille Planning and Economic Development, estimated the survey takes five minutes to complete.

It is available at yourcommunity.me Web site on an Internet-connected computer and selecting the "Projects" page. A link also is available through the Wauseon Public Library's Web site.

Those without an Internet connection at home may participate by using a computer at the library, Mr. Grisdale said.

The on-line survey is part of a "variety of methods" Reveille will use to get "a well-rounded response from residents" for the plan's development, he said.

A separate, printed questionnaire will later be distributed to homeowners and merchants, and community forums also will be held, the consultant said.

Doing a printed, community-wide survey now was deemed cost-prohibitive, Mr. Grisdale said, but printed copies of the questions can be obtained at City Hall or the Wauseon Chamber of Commerce.

"We've done those before in many communities, and the response rates cannot justify the cost of doing them," he said.

Mr. Grisdale has been working with city leaders for more than a year to identify strategies for reviving commerce in downtown Wauseon, where a fire four years ago at the Doc Holliday's restaurant destroyed an entire block, accelerating business migration to North Shoop Avenue.

With a Downtown Revitalization Plan, itself paid for with an Ohio Department of Development grant, Wauseon would become eligible for up to $400,000 in state funds to help downtown business owners spruce up building facades or make other improvements to make Wauseon's core more appealing to business.

Plan elements could include refining downtown's "identity" with signs, "gateway" features, street beautification, or even a logo; identifying downtown's "preferred audience and niche," and potential incentives for new business development; developing communication with residents about special events and other ways to market the district; and developing "an increased awareness of [the] social and economic importance of the downtown," according to a summary Mr. Grisdale prepared.

"The online survey is designed to discuss and identify conditions and possibilities for the downtown," he said. "The results and feedback from the survey will be used in conjunction with other steps in the planning process to establish the vision, goals, and objectives for the Downtown Revitalization Plan and serve as the foundation for the preparation of conceptual development plans and guidelines."

Other "community outreach" opportunities are to be part of the plan's development, which is scheduled for completion by September, Mr. Grisdale said.

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