Central Park

A drawing of what Central Park could look like under the "Main Street Corridor Plan." 

MANSFIELD -- K.E. MCartney & Associates was awarded a $1,046,987 contract on Tuesday morning to do the design and engineering services for the Main Street Corridor Improvement plan in downtown Mansfield.

Mansfield City Council in January approved the two-year design and engineering effort, which may ultimately lead to a $7.5 million project to improve the road from First Street to Fifth Street.

At the request of city engineer Bob Bianchi, the city's Board of Control awarded the contract to the Mansfield engineering firm on a 2-0 vote with Mayor Tim Theaker and Safety-Service Director Lori Cope voting in favor. Finance Director Linn Stewart "recused" herself from the vote.

Bianchi said a $884,203 federal grant through the Richland County Regional Planning will cover 84 percent of the design and engineering work, which he said would likely begin in June.

The remaining $162,784 will be used to replace an 87-year-old, 12-inch water main along Main Street for which Bianchi said the federal grant dollars cannot be used.

The engineer, who made his contract recommendation after a statewide approved bid process, said $64,539 of the city's cost will be borne by the  water fund and $98,000 from the city's permissive sales tax.

In January, Downtown Mansfield Inc. CEO Jennifer Kime told City Council that the effort to replace the nearly 40-year old streetscape would spur visitation to the downtown, promote business growth and increase economic investment in the area while also honoring the city's long history.

"One of the things we have heard time and time again from residents, businesses, stakeholders and others is the need to improve the arteries going into the downtown, especially Main Street," Kime said in January. "We have looked at the current conditions, discussed what we wanted to see and (examined) what was possible."

The project is in keeping with the goals of the Mansfield Rising downtown reinvestment plan.

Bianchi said in January the overall project would be a significant improvement to the downtown corridor.

"It's aimed at beautifying the corridor, making it pedestrian friendly, adding placemaking features, new lighting fixtures, new sidewalks and brick crosswalks," he said.

Bianchi has said federal and state grants would cover about 75 percent of the actual construction costs. He said the city's portion, which would have to be approved by City Council, would be about $1.8 million, none of which would come from the general fund.

The engineer has said it would come from $395,000 in permissive sales tax, $184,000 in the city's street resurfacing fund, $235,000 from the Downtown Improvement Fund, $311,000 from the city's sewer fund and $754,000 from the water fund.

Bianchi said there would be "extensive" public meetings for input during the project's process, including merchants, residents and elected officials.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"