A Perrysburg City Council committee took no action on plans for a $2.3 million downtown beautification project that would add a median and roundabout on Louisiana Avenue after public comment at a meeting Wednesday was overwhelmingly against the project.
At the meeting of the economic development committee, 16 residents spoke against the project, and two in favor of it.
The city’s administration asked for a recommendation from the committee to take to a Sept. 2 city council meeting, but did not receive one. A first reading for the project will go to council Sept. 2, and it will be voted on Sept. 16. Both meetings will be at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal building.
“Minds have changed and we need answers to some questions,” said John Kevern, chairman of the committee and president of council. “I know the mayor and administration want support, but I don‘t think it’s feasible right now until questions get answered, and we will defer the vote to the seven-man council.”
Along with creating a roundabout at Louisiana Avenue and Front Street, the project move the statue of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to the middle of a roundabout.
“Downtown parking and restrooms should be addressed first before we try to beautify it,” said Phillip Dombey who owns Dombey and Hart Law Firm on Second Street. He also said the roundabout is not historic and wasn’t part of the original plans for downtown created by the federal government.
The main concerns from business owners were a lack of parking, a lack of downtown restrooms, difficulty maneuvering delivery trucks into town, and the timetable of construction. The city administration is trying to address some of the concerns through negotiations with a tenant to put in public restrooms, and by putting $40,000 in next year’s budget to create 25 more parking spaces on Second Street.
“I’ve clearly been in contact with people that support it that could not be here, and you have to take that in consideration,” Mayor Mike Olmstead said. “The goal is to make this successful for everyone.”
Brody Walters, planning and zoning administrator, also said he talked to the companies that make deliveries to downtown merchants. The companies assured him they could utilize downtown alleys without a problem, he said.
“I think we have a different vision of our clientele,” said Jane Wurth, owner of Ragazza, during the meeting. “If we choose to go Portside with T-shirt shops, us merchants will have to leave.”
She said they have more upscale, older, clients that won‘t want to park far away and walk. She wants downtown Perrysburg to stay as it is.
Other city residents asked why the money for the beautification project isn‘t being spent to fix roads, to get a backup water supply from Bowling Green or to restore fire department staffing levels.
“Downtown Perrysburg from Front Street to Third Street is unique and has historic charm,” said Perrysburg resident Therese Witt. “It’s classic. At Levis Commons they have to put in a roundabout, clock, and brick because it is a new development and they need to try to appear to have historic charm.”
Contact Matt Thompson at: email@example.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.