EDITOR'S NOTE: This story concludes our month-long series "The Ideas of March," which highlighted the various aspects of the Mansfield Rising Plan.
MANSFIELD -- That's a wrap: Over the past 31 days, Richland Source has highlighted every major idea in the Mansfield Rising plan, which was released in late February.
But in case you missed one of the many ideas along the way, we encourage you to scroll through them below or to flip through the Mansfield Rising Plan in its entirety.
"This large void could be developed to connect Central Park and the Carrousel District," the plan reads. "During the (team's) listening tour, it became apparent these two districts need a strong connection in order to create a more robust downtown."
The team intends to work with an expert and hopes to present a brand that will be adopted across organizational and perhaps city lines.
The purpose of branding for downtown Mansfield is to "weave a powerful and positive story to raise awareness about why this is a great place to live and conduct business."
"None of the main arteries leading to downtown Mansfield are beautiful. They are car-focused pathways through industrial centers, distressed neighborhoods and business-zoned urban centers," the plan notes. "Objective beauty or walkabilty isn't the goal, but a clear sense of care and priority must be."
After establishing a brand for downtown Mansfield, the 'Mansfield Rising' team suggests improving the city's signage and wayfinding.
Here the team outlines how integrating navigation and communication tools could provide people with the necessary information to reach their downtown destinations, find parking and more.
The facade improvement grant fund formerly provided grants to buildings and business owners for up to $2,500 to make improvements.
Similar to how communities commonly offer incentives for businesses bringing in new jobs, this initiative would provide incentives targeting new development in downtown Mansfield.
Creating a structure to provide shelter from the weather is needed. This gathering place could be used for farmer's markets, community meals, performances and food trucks.
In the "Mansfield Rising" plan, the team calls public WiFi a "necessity" to build "the best possible foundation for any future-thinking city."
The notion is to work with downtown businesses using an idea from the Vermont Digital Economy Project, which looks at implementing WiFi by having local businesses donate bandwidth.
In the "Mansfield Rising" plan, the team of 15 outlines intentions to create realistic vinyl decals that will be placed in store windows of empty businesses. Instead of passing by empty, dirty windows, people would see the future of downtown.
Powerful but low-risk events can be used to draw people downtown. Using the “lighter, quicker, cheaper” methods for temporary events and installations can gauge community interest in more permanent implementation.
This can include activities like neighborhood block parties, pop-up retail stores, temporary art exhibits, food truck festivals, oversized or life-sized board games, and "parklets."
Several sites have been identified as prime outdoor movie space. Organizations such as the Renaissance Theatre and the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library could provide movies to show at the Brickyard.
A healthy and bustling downtown begins with awareness. In order to come downtown, residents and visitors must be able to easily access information about events within their community. To facilitate a valuable listing of all events, a central community “calendar” is needed.
A community calendar would give businesses and organizations the ability to easily coordinate and promote events in Downtown Mansfield.
The information should feed directly into existing event listings, such as a mobile app, and/or the Destination Mansfield public calendar of “Things To Do” to provide a comprehensive promotion of available activities, resources, and services.
Fixtures and amenities keep a city accessible, vibrant and tidy. Facilities such as restrooms, seating, bus shelters, and bike racks are functional and provide convenience.
The lack of facilities can discourage usage of public spaces. For example, the lack of safe parking for bikes can convey the message that bikes are not welcome. Adequate facilities in turn, like bus shelters, are appreciated in inclement weather.
The plan explains complete streets make it easier to cross the road, walk to shops and bike to work. Meanwhile, traditional streets are designed to enable cars to move quickly and efficiently.
"A well-designed multimodal roadway infrastructure should be a vision of the future to satisfy the growing desire for an enhanced quality of life less dependent on the automobile," the plan states.
Rain gardens could be implemented as part of the overall streetscape strategy, making street design both actively and passively sustainable.
It calls rain gardens a "cost-effective way" to provide aesthetic and functional means to manage stormwater and to reduce the burden on the municipal sewer system.
It's not enough to just create a brand -- the city must leverage the message broadly and frequently across its communication channels, which will be primarily digital.
A well-educated and connected Chief Digital Officer, operating within a framework but having autonomy, could create a resounding impact for downtown.
By establishing Mansfield as a leader in diversity and inclusion among small Midwestern cities, it can become more attractive to potential businesses and individuals, the Mansfield Rising plan states.
The community can dramatically improve the impact of diversity and inclusion efforts within the top levels of Mansfield’s business leadership in order to create objectively better business outcomes across Downtown Mansfield.
Someone in this role would recruit new businesses to downtown Mansfield and be dedicated to help those companies already there with their needs.
The business concierge would act as a general contractor and help step-by-step to find solutions for both start-ups and existing businesses. He or she would assist with requirements, regulations, permits, ordinances, funding and available sites and buildings. That individual would be a liaison to the codes and permits department.
The plan expresses a desire for downtown Mansfield to be an inviting and entertaining space for all people, especially families, as they make up a large percentage of downtown visitors.
"Community development is best done on the strengths of a community's assets, and Downtown Mansfield has marked success in attracting young families with the Richland Carrousel Park, Little Buckeye Children's Museum and the Renaissance Theatre," the plan states.
The Richland Carrousel Park could serve as the hub. Meanwhile, linear parks could be made to use existing green space, alleys, parking lots. Vacant and underutilized properties could be developed to connect to the pending Imagination District along Park Avenue West.
The need for a community pool is important as a gathering space, to promote a sense of community and improve the health and well-being of local citizens. Aside from this, community pools are an essential piece of a city to engage in recreational activities.
Young people need to be included in the community and feel their contributions make a difference, the Mansfield Rising plan states.
Many teens have highlighted the lack of opportunity for them to engage in downtown.
A community center could provide an array of activities and services to teenagers and allow a safe space to gather.
This would include multi-sized recycling receptacles throughout Downtown Mansfield. But this recycling program will differ from traditional ones. It will incorporate elements of original, ever-changing designs created by individuals, businesses, and organizations within the creative community.
Part of the 'Mansfield Rising' plan is to provide alternative transportation options, such as ride-share services, trolleys, bike sharing programs and electric scooters.
First things first: The idea of "placemaking" means creating a place that has purpose, a place you want to spend time in.
It feels like a destination versus somewhere you're just passing through. It's designed to be lived in, worked in and walked in.
The plan encourages new real estate developments to have transit supportive amenities like sidewalks, proper lighting and places for future transit stops, which reviewed by and involve transit and transportation agencies.
Communities that invest in the arts have made a commitment to fostering a healthy social culture that values citizens’ intellectual and emotional nourishment and creates a sense of belonging and well-being above and beyond fulfilling basic needs.
Neighborhood Watches are forming in many communities across the country, including Richland County. Although downtown Mansfield is already quite safe, an added layer of awareness will increase the public perception of safety as well.
In the past year, Mansfield's existing entrepreneurial alliance has led to events like the inaugural Richland Idea Audition.
The 'Mansfield Rising' plan proposes that this alliance be solidified to further enhance the resources available to local self-starters and to ultimately build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.
With technology use on the rise, a free mobile app should be developed to showcase downtown businesses, events, attractions, public art, and other activities.