What started as a vision between the mayors of two neighboring cities has now turned into a collaboration between four Lake County entities
Eastlake Mayor Dennis Morley and Willowick Mayor Rich Regovich came together with the hope of revitalizing Vine Street, one of the major corridors that connects their cities.
Since Vine Street extends through not just those two cities but also Willoughby, Morley and Regovich reached out to then new Willoughby Mayor Bob Fiala and invited them to be a part of the planning. Later on in the process Laketran joined the collaboration.
“We decided, the three of us that we were going to look at the Vine Street Corridor and make it all run together and look the same through all three cities,” Morley said.
The trio of mayors are optimistic that the collaboration between their cities and Laketran will be beneficial in multiple ways.
Fiala, Morley and Regovich envision Vine Street becoming more than just a business corridor. They are hopeful that it will become a destination spot.
Representatives from the three cities recently gave a presentation in front of NOACA in hopes of obtaining a $125,000 Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grant that they plan to use if awarded to create a master plan for the entirety of Vine Street.
They are hopeful to have an award notice by the end of March.
The master plan would be created from a study of the entire stretch of Vine Street from Willoughby through Willowick. The mayors would like to take the information from the study and use that to consolidate all of their land use policies along the corridor, according to Fiala.
The study would also be used to determine the best use of the properties along Vine Street to be an economic driver in all three cities.
“We are cautiously optimistic. I think we did everything we could do to present our case,” Fiala said.
The goal is to have updated transportation and make the streetscape look alike, starting at Shoregate in Willowick and proceeding all the way to the corner of Erie Street in Willoughby, Morley said.
Some of the bigger items in the process is to try to get the zoning similar so there aren’t any huge disparities, Regovich said.
The mayors would like to see some kind of transportation set up for Vine Street, such as a trolley style system or a loop from one end of Vine to the other run by Laketran.
“With Jakprints going in and bringing 300 jobs in the middle of Vine Street that shows a need for us to have public transportation,” Regovich said. “A lot of their workers are millennials who like to bike to work and those types of things so we would like to accommodate that with a bus shuttle form here to downtown Willoughby.
“This would also help Willoughby alleviate their downtown parking situation and things like that.”
The mayors are also looking into the aging population in the area and are hopeful to add some senior living facilities to accommodate those that don’t necessarily want to take care of a home. The addition of senior living facilities would allow more houses for younger families who would hopefully update them and create a nice living areas. Regovich said.
Morley is hopeful that the addition of Jakprints to Vine Street will help bring in additional businesses such as restaurants.
Morley notes that residents can expect to see Vine Street getting cleaned up in the spring thanks to the $45,000 Community Block Grant awarded to the corridor for the purpose of trimming trees, removing dead trees and fixing sidewalks.
The three entities also are working with NOACA on a traffic light study and are looking into the possibility of syncing all the traffic lights along Vine Street.
I think the fact that all of us working together has been the biggest accomplishment,” Morley said.