The good news is that it
appears that bus shelters will be returning to downtown Ravenna.
The bad news is that they won't be returning anytime soon. And that's especially bad news for anyone dependent upon bus transportation in the county seat during the weeks ahead, which are likely to bring snow, rain, ice and the other elements of winter in Northeastern Ohio.
Bus shelters utilized by patrons of the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority were yanked very abruptly as summer was coming to an end following complaints from some in the downtown area who objected to what they termed "undesirables" loitering there. Two shelters on West Main Street near the Portage County Courthouse, which had served PARTA patrons for more than 20 years, were dismantled by the city.
In response to subsequent complaints about the removal of the shelters, city officials agreed to consider erecting new ones, with a design that would be less conducive to prolonged occupancy, which presumably would resolve the "loitering" issue.
The city's Design Review Commission has reviewed plans for six shelters in downtown Ravenna, including several locations on West Main Street, two near the post office on North Chestnut Street and one on South Prospect Street near Prospect House.
Now the issue appears to be settling on a design that will be compatible with the historic downtown area.
We doubt if those who rely on riding PARTA buses, many of whom are elderly, disabled or unable to afford alternative transportation, care about what the bus shelters will look like. If we were forced to wait for buses in snow, rain or subzero weather, neither would we.
PARTA officials have again offered to provide temporary shelters from the agency's inventory while the design issue is finalized and the bidding process is completed. We doubt that it would take long to put the temporary structures in place. The alternative is to leave bus patrons to wait for their rides in wintry weather -- or trying to seek shelter from the elements, as some are doing now, by clinging to the space beneath building overhangs.
We've long been on record for making downtown Ravenna an appealing place to visit, and we can understand the concern about how the shelters will look, especially if they end up remaining in place for the next 20 years. For the time being, however, let aesthetics take the back seat to basic compassion. Put up some temporary shelters and get the bus patrons out of the cold and snow.