By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — The planned investment of $50,000 in streetscape projects is nearly ready for village approval, but Mayor Dean Theodorakos says that balancing the desire for additional downtown parking with a proposed memorial park still has to be worked out.
The village board received an update on the committee administering the grant; and heard comments from members of the downtown business community.
Members of the Albion Merchants Association voiced their support for the proposal to add trees, benches, bike racks and new lighting to the business district. Bindings Bookstore owner Carolyn Ricker said the improvements would boost the look of the downtown area.
”We’re hoping our village will look more attractive for visitors,” said Ricker, who noted canal bikers and other tourists as groups who would find the downtown welcoming if the changes are made.
There’s no disagreement there, but the issue of the grant project’s crown jewel — a memorial park to the generations of immigrant quarryman in an area cleared out by the village more than a year ago— is still not settled.
Wednesday, Theodorakos tabled a Chatfield Engineering proposal for site plan design and other work for the proposed Main Street parking lot/park area. The work, which would be paid out of the fund used to purchase the building, would design out how the park and parking could fit together.
Theodorakos said the village was open to the ideas of the Downtown Albion Neighborhood Advisory Committee, which is seeking as much park as it can out of the site. In tabling the motion, the mayor said the village would wait for the park proponent’s final plans to be set.
”We want to increase parking and accomodate the park,” Theodorakos said. He noted that his initial idea was that both 10 new spaces and the statue could co-exist. “We need a plan that gives us a nice balance.”
If it comes down to one or the other, both Theodorakos and Trustee Fred Miller said providing parking, the initial reasoning behind the purchase and removal of a building at 19 N. Main St., was still their first priority.
”We need to (settle the issue of) parking before the park,” Miller said.
Downtown building owner Vincent Navarra, whose properties are near the proposed parking lot/park, agreed. He said that potential tenants for his office space have been disinclined to locate their because of the lack of available parking.
”When the village purchased (19 N. Main St.) it was for a parking lot,” Navarra said. “They want it to be all park.”
Theodorakos replied that other alternatives, such as expanding parking off of Liberty Street, are being worked out in addition to the parking lot/park options.
• The village board approved a request from Police Chief Roland Nenni to purchase a Chevrolet Tahoe before the state bid updates and increases the cost of such a purchase.
Nenni said his officers have benefited in the switch from Dodge Chargers to the sport utility vehicles, which offer more space for equipment and are better in snowy conditions.
The village is getting both a trade-in and a discount on the vehicle.
• DANAC Streetscape Subcommittee Chairman Tom Rivers pitched another idea for the board Wednesday, showing off detailed street signs that could be placed in the business district.
”It lets people know they’re in a historic district,” Rivers said.
Rivers noted that one of the potential signs — denoting Beaver Alley — may prove to be a popular novelty item.
• Brooks said he will pursue a Small Cities grant for sanitary and water line improvements. Among the potential projects identified by Brooks were East State Street and Crimson Drive, where a sanitary line needs to be installed due to changes in the Clarendon Street Bridge Project.
• A public hearing has been scheduled to March 27 to address the First Presbyterian Church of Albion’s request for a second handicap parking spot on East State Street between Platt and Main streets.
Brooks suggested the space could be handicap-only on Sundays only, which would reduce the parking burden during the week when the courthouse is in use.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.