Our View: Toward a revitalized downtown Ravenna

dialogue, engagement are first steps in redevelopment process

Published:

The city of Ravenna has be-

gun a dialogue aimed at providing direction for the future redevelopment of the downtown area.

If the first public hearing on the topic is any indication, it's off to a good start. The session at City Hall last week drew a packed room, and those in attendance -- city leaders, property owners, business leaders and interested residents -- had plenty of ideas about what they would like to see their downtown become in the future.

The discussion centered on the future use of 76 acres in the downtown area, surrounding Main Street, but many of the ideas shared applied to redevelopment of the city as a whole. City officials said they appreciated the large turnout and welcomed the engagement shown by those in attendance. "This is really just the beginning," said Kerry Macomber, the city's community development director. "This is a good place to start."

Representatives of the Ohio Development Services Agency led the discussion. They were brought into the process after the city received a $50,000 state grant last year to study a 220-acre area bordered by North Diamond and North Prospect streets, Lincoln Avenue and West Main Street. The site has been identified as a brownfield area, which means that some of the parcels located within it have hazards or contaminants that limit their future use but do not prohibit redevelopment if they are remediated.

Those in attendance at the hearing suggested Ravenna capitalize on some of its strengths, including its historic downtown district and the fact that it is a county seat, to help spur redevelopment. Those are two assets that do, indeed, set the city apart from any other community in Portage County, along with the fact that it is the location of Robinson Memorial Hospital, the county's leading health care provider.

Other suggestions included improving parking, attempting to draw more diverse retail and dining options and nightlife opportunities as well as open-air recreation such as concerts. Another suggestion was that Ravenna do a better job of marketing itself, again by drawing on its strengths.

It will take more than talk, of course, to spur actual redevelopment. That is likely to be a costly and lengthy process, one with many unanswered questions at this point.

The first step, however, is to begin setting a course of action -- providing a sense of direction in terms of where Ravenna hopes to go. Engaging residents, business leaders and property owners, those with the greatest stake in a vibrant downtown area, is a solid step in the right direction. Those who turned out for last week's hearing are proud of Ravenna and believe in their community. The ideas they shared are important as the process of shaping a vision for the future begins in earnest.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.

  • Well the first thing the City should do is go back and reduce the taxes and storm water fees. No one want to come to a place that has a city government that has such high property taxes, an income tax, a storm water run off tax, an inspection fee for every thing they can think of an inept city hall that fines you for parking in a business area, that fines you for parking in front of your home, that requires inspections for every thing, unless you are one of the good old boys, and offers nothing in return. Does any one know the number of Hud houses that do not pay any property taxes? How about the Colman deal, will they pay taxes on the apartments they have for their clients? How about the Neighbor Hood development corp., do they pay taxes on their property? If you want to improve Ravenna improve the government.