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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2001

Ballpark-area changes draw interest, worry

Warehouse district residents, business owners, and developers voiced concerns last night about plans to alter downtown traffic to help the new downtown baseball stadium.

The city plans to change Washington and Monroe streets to accommodate two-way traffic near the stadium. View the official Toledo Mud Hens Webcam

That was among several issues talked about during a city-held forum in Seagate Center about traffic, parking, and sidewalks near the stadium. About 25 people turned out for the city's presentation of the two-way traffic plan and streetscape projects. Residents, business owners, and developers discussed sidewalks, on-street parking, and high-volume intersections.

The city is making changes around the ballpark in anticipation of its opening next spring.

“We thought this [the stadium] was a good catalyst to make all these changes at once,” said Patrick Zohn of Gateway Consulting Group, the company that was hired to oversee construction of the ballpark.

Monroe Street was converted to two-way traffic between 17th Street and Collingwood Boulevard two years ago.

Washington and Monroe streets near the new Mud Hens' ballpark will become two-way streets by April 1, 2002, said Tom Kroman of the division of transportation.

Monroe will be two-way from Summit to 17th streets and Washington from Summit to 17th streets. In addition, St. Clair Street will become two-way from Monroe to Lafayette streets, and Huron Street will become two-way from Washington to Market streets.

St. Clair will be closed three hours prior to games to accommodate pedestrian traffic, Mr. Zohn said.

Two TARTA stations, one on Washington between Superior and St. Clair and one on Monroe between Huron and Superior streets, will be part of the ballpark complex.

“We're going to have a very good relationship with TARTA,” Mr. Zohn said.

Monroe will continue to undergo streetscape improvements, including medians to separate traffic, bushes, trees, sidewalks, and crosswalks, which will be made either of contrasting brick or pavement to eliminate the need for painted lines, said Kent Gardam of the division of engineering.

Streetscape improvements are being made to Monroe between Michigan Street and Collingwood this year, with subsequent phases to begin next year between Summit and Michigan and between Collingwood and Bancroft Street. Bids for streetscape improvements on Huron will be received by the city this summer.

Some warehouse district residents and business owners are concerned about the condition of sidewalks and the volume of pedestrian traffic to and from the stadium.

All of the sidewalks in the warehouse district need improvements, not just those immediately near the ballpark, said Robert Seyfang, owner of the Bakery Building, 33 South Michigan.

“They're just awful down there,” Mr. Seyfang said.

Others worry about the availability of on-street parking. Because of the change to two-way traffic, some streets may not have enough space to allow angled or metered parking.

George Yakumithis owns property on Monroe between Michigan and 10th streets and is concerned that the removal of on-street parking will hurt his business.

Mr. Yakumithis owns Michael's bar and is developing other property on Monroe as possible rental space for mercantile shops.

“If we develop these and rent them, I think that there's more appeal if we have parking in front,” he said.

Concerns were raised about the necessity of proposed traffic islands, signs marking the beginning and end of two-way streets, and high-volume intersections such as Erie and Lafayette streets near the Anthony Wayne Trail access.

Officials recorded the concerns raised and said they would examine them.



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