SIDNEY — Sidney City Council considered the future of Sidney’s downtown during a focus group session on the city’s comprehensive plan during its workshop session Monday evening.
It was council’s turn to discuss the five question survey previously discussed at the public forum held at the Senior Center on June 30, 2016, which will shape the future of the nine-block section of downtown.
During the session, council and city staff members were split into three groups for a 15-minute discussion of the questions. Community Services Director Barbara Dulworth and Downtown Sidney Director Amy Breinich facilitated the exercise by helping keep the groups on track and answering any questions. Then each group’s representative gave a brief five-minute summary on their thoughts.
Group one felt there needed to be an analysis of the buildings and of downtown’s “footprint” prior to making any decisions on whether to “rehab or demolish” buildings that appear to be deteriorating. They also felt an “exact” definition of the downtown footprint should be determined before choosing to expand it. The consensus among all groups was for the city to work with what is already downtown on improvement before contemplating expansion.
When considering ways to improve downtown by becoming better connected to the river, increasing outdoor activities such as kayaking or a creating a bike or pedestrian path, was suggested. Otherwise, one group felt the river should be kept natural with no commercial development or buildings directly on the river. Another group believed they should develop the river away from downtown for fear of flooding.
All groups were on the same page that the neighborhoods downtown should be encouraged to improve the properties either with a “downtown design guideline” with “more robust enforcement” of codes. But one group believed the city should reward “good behavior” by helping people “find grants or available resources,” such as low interest loans, for helping to develop properties.
Better signage and lighting for parking were other points that needed to be addressed for downtown. It was pointed out that these areas need to be “cleaned up” and felt to be more safe for downtown patrons.
The information gathered Monday will be compiled with the residents’ suggestions from June (or with surveys continued to be completed on the city’s website) to create city’s comprehensive plan that is reviewed by council every five years. The survey can still be completed through October at www.sidneyoh.com.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.