Editor's Note: This story is part of a month-long series that highlights 31 ideas included in the "Mansfield Rising" plan. The 67-page document was created by 15 local leaders after attending the South by Southwest Conference last March in Austin, Texas.
Idea 3: Upgrade the city's main arteries
MANSFIELD -- When introducing its suggestion to "upgrade the city's main arteries," the authors of the 'Mansfield Rising' plan asked readers to consider how they feel when driving by the grain silos on North Main Street today compared to last year.
Since painted, the silos provide a more "welcoming space," the plans explain. Such is the purpose of this portion of the plan, where the team outlines a need to improve the areas leading into downtown Mansfield.
"Reality check, 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."
Welcome to Mansfield Sign Refurbishing
The actual refurbishing of the Welcome to Mansfield sign was a fairly quick process once work was begun. In conjunction with a couple of photos courtesy of the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, one can see what a tremendous difference this project makes to those arriving from the north side of town on Ohio 13.
The plan states North and South Main Street, East and West 4th Street and East and West Park Avenue must be constantly improving and maintained as "key entrances to downtown."
"They are the front door to our downtown and are often treated like a doormat," the plan states.
It goes on to say that these "critical arteries" should never be overgrown, have excessive potholes or excessive trash littering the streets.
The plan identifies the city of Mansfield as the key player in this part of the plan. The initiative will require the city to prioritize central arteries that circulate customers and clients into downtown to be maintained at the highest possible standard.
Invest in Main Street
During the teams listening tour last summer, concerns about Main Street's deteriorating streetscape" came to light. Hence this portion of the project aims to revitalize and beautify Main Street from First to Fifth Street, to improve the pedestrian experience along the corridor and solidify this area as a destination.
"Main Street serves as an urban artery and is an instrumental corridor to the downtown street network," the plan notes.
The corridor consists of office, retail and entertainment businesses. New businesses located on Main Street have increased and will continue to attract pedestrian traffic.
"As Main Street becomes increasingly a place for pedestrians, the streetscape needs to accommodate them as a mode of traffic," the plan says.
The existing streetscape was installed 38 years ago and has "outlived its design," according to the plan. Sidewalks and streetscape bricks have heaved, settled and become tripping hazards.
Further, the street lighting is outdated and the curbs have deteriorated. It doesn't in its current state "represent the Mansfield community."
This project recommends improvements like:
- Replacing sidewalks, curbs and pedestrian ramps.
- Installing new ornamental lighting and arches.
- Installing bike racks, benches, trash and recycling receptacles.
- Creating public art.
- Re-purposing plazas in front of Richland and Mechanics Banks into "pocket parks."
- Installing landscaping, trees and planters.
- Incorporating wayfinding elements.
- Upgrading public utilities.
The plan identifies the arts community, including local artists and maybe the Ohio Arts Council, as key players in this portion of the plan.
The intent is to include public art that reflects the local culture. Design features will incorporate the history and heritage of Mansfield coupled with modern amenities.