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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2001

Maumee upbeat on Uptown plan

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bowling Green State University students take in the shops on Conant Street in Maumee. Bowling Green State University students take in the shops on Conant Street in Maumee.
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Maumee's downtown revitalization plan, released to city officials last week, outlines public, private, and community improvement projects designed to enhance what is known as the Uptown area.

The plan was drawn up as part of the city's efforts to obtain a $400,000 community development block grant for the Uptown revitalization projects. Applications are due tomorrow.

“We're excited about it,” said Tom Dibling, whose family operates Dibling Floor Covering in the downtown business district. He is a member of the downtown steering committee that is involved with the downtown improvement plan.

Several business owners have agreed to participate in the revitalization effort, officials said, which should strengthen the city's chances of being awarded the grant.

The target area for Uptown Maumee is bounded by the Maumee River on the south, the Anthony Wayne Trail on the north, Gibbs Street on the east, and Allen Street on the west. The fire station property on William Street is included in the target area.

To identify the desires and concerns of residents for the Uptown Maumee projects, three surveys were conducted during the summer. According to the results, restaurants, a theater, and specialty shops would help enhance the downtown Maumee business district. Evening shopping hours, more parking space, and special promotions and sales appear to have the least impact, according to information in the revitalization plan.

Increasing the number of special events such as fairs and festivals would be beneficial, the plan states. Events planned around walking and biking on the towpath should be considered.

“When the new bridge is completed, a bikeway on the bridge will tie the Uptown into a larger accessible consumer area, and the Uptown should capitalize on that market,” the plan states, noting that special events to commemorate the closing of the old bridge and emphasizing that the Uptown is still open to business should be considered. A new Maumee-Perrysburg bridge is under construction and traffic will be detoured temporarily near the completion of the project.

When the Maumee Indoor Theater renovation project is finished, it will draw many people to the Uptown area, based on the survey findings. Design work is being done for the theater project. The project should have a “very positive economic impact on the Uptown, if it is properly capitalized upon,” according to the plan. The city needs to work hard at maintaining the small, historic town atmosphere in the Uptown area, the plan stated.

Mr. Dibling praised city officials and taxpayers for making a commitment in recent years to the downtown area. Twenty-five years ago, the downtown was considered as a place filled with bars and decrepit buildings, he said. Now, “it is can be used as an example of what can be down with an uptown,” he said.

The new venture will capitalize on previous improvements and upgrades. The city completed major downtown streetscape work in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

If the city receives the grant, funds can be used to preserve the commercial building stock and make other substantial improvements in the target area, said John Jezak, the city's administrator.

Grant funds could be used to fix facades and foundations and upgrade electrical systems and heating and air-conditioning systems in downtown businesses. Property owners would match the grant funds, Mr. Dibling said. He said he is interested in making repairs to bricks on a building he owns.

The revitalization plan call for streetscaping improvements, such as new sidewalks, trees, decorative street lighting, and street furniture, to be extended as well as pedestrian walkways. Adding signs to direct visitors to parking lots is being considered as well as the building gateways for the Uptown area. The new bridge could be a gateway to the city, and the Anthony Wayne Trail and Conant Street area could be another major gateway.

City officials should know by the first of the year whether the grant will be awarded.



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