Vine Street: Lake County Commissioner works to aid Eastlake, Willoughby and Willowick mayors with revitalization

Mayors Robert Fiala of Willoughby, Rich Regovich of Willowick and Dennis Morley of Eastlake could see the planning stage for revitalizing Vine Street throughout all of their cities start to move faster than initially anticipated.

Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy scheduled a meeting for the three mayors with the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. That meeting took place Feb. 1.

Troy who is a past president of the agency, drove the three mayors to downtown Cleveland to meet with NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci, Planning Director Kathy Sarli and Programming Director Randy Lane, according to his Feb. 1 Facebook post.

During the meeting, the group discussed funding and program possibilities for various aspects of revitalizing Vine Street. Topics included a study of the traffic signalization along the Vine Street corridor to achieve a synchronized and optimally operating system in all three cities, along with safer pedestrian and crossing upgrades, potential separated bike lanes, lighting and other amenities to improve the corridor.

Transportation improvements is another key area they are exploring.

“We are trying to work with the transportation planners at NOACA to make Vine Street more aesthetically pleasing, safer and more conducive for future investment for business or residents,” Troy said during a phone interview. “Some of these areas may need to be repurposed. so I want to work with them (Fiala, Regovich and Morley) to look at every funding possibility.”

According to Troy, NOACA officials are in favor of helping the cities apply jointly for various funding sources to achieve some of the objectives.

Troy, who is a fan of collaboration, shared service consolidation and regionalization, believes it just makes more sense.

“Collaborations like this, I love to see. It’s getting hard pressed for some communities to do this on their own,” the commissioner said. “I think it’s good that you’ve got three mayors who are forward thinking.”

Regovich, who applied for a separate Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grant through NOACA, hopes to hear in March if the city’s application is approved. With that grant, the city of Willowick hopes to receive funding to initiate the planning phase for lakefront development.

Looking ahead, Regovich expects that Willowick, Willoughby and Eastlake will apply jointly for another TLCI grant in October.

With an October application for a TLCI grant, they can expect a decision next March, Regovich said. This TLCI grant would deal with planning connectivity: bus routes and bikes routes, which Regovich is hopeful to have along Vine Street.

Regovich thought the meeting with NOACA went very well.

“NOACA is going to do things in the immediate future that I wasn’t anticipating,” Regovich said. “They are going to look at some traffic lights and streetscapes stuff to see what’s possible and make some suggestions. I wasn’t expecting them to move that quickly.”

The mayors all agree on the goal of making Vine Street easily accessible, allowing motorists to travel just as easily through Eastlake, which has many traffic lights along Vine Street, as they do through Willoughby, which only has a few traffic lights. The short-term goal is to coordinate the traffic lights.

Morley said he was looking forward to working with Fiala, Regovich and Troy.

“After our initial meeting with NOACA, when it comes to grants or studies, it is in our best interest to apply jointly with the three cities.”

Troy, who is a near lifelong resident of the Vine Street (Eastlake-Willowick) neighborhood, said he salutes the three mayors for thinking as one unified entity working to improve the entire length of the Vine Street corridor for both businesses and residents.

“Collaborations such as these are so important in these days of shrinking government resources,” Troy said in his Feb. 1, Facebook post. “I pledge to work with these three forward-thinking mayors to help access every possible funding opportunity for Vine Street that I can possibly do through my leadership position at NOACA.”

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