New streetscaping plan for Newark takes shape

December 24, 2013 by  

Downtown Newark, Ohio, may be getting a facelift as part of a $12m project to separate the downtown area’s sanitary and storm sewers.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated the sewer project, so the idea is to take advantage of the construction to improve the downtown area by making the streets more welcoming and safe.

The changes under consideration including putting in more benches and trees, adding spaces for outdoor dining, installing more bike racks, and changing the one-way traffic around the square to two-way streets. Other suggestions include improving the median parking situation or eliminating it entirely, and adding buffer zones between pedestrian walkways and vehicular routes.

There have been two public meetings to discuss the project, with a third slated for January 28, 2014. Although plans have not yet been finalized, Newark residents have greeted them with a largely positive response. Assuming everything goes to plan, work should start in late summer, 2014 and wind up by 2016.

Some of the ideas that resonated with residents were changing the pattern of downtown traffic, adding trees to replace those that have been lost, and setting up outdoor dining spaces. Jeremy Blake, who has won a seat on the city council, has said he is particularly enthusiastic about the last option, noting that dining outdoors will give the city a “small-town feel”.

City officials could consider working with brochure printers to create a mailer for the city’s residents, explaining the plans and inviting their further input.