VERMILION — The mayor recently released a plan for major changes on the east side of the city along U.S. Route 6 with the goal of attracting businesses.
At last week’s City Council meeting, Mayor Jim Forthofer presented the proposal, which includes a park, an area for business development and aesthetic improvements.
He said improving the east side of the city was part of his mayoral campaign, and said he’s excited to get started on fulfilling his promise.
“I’m not exactly sure how far I can get this done in my term, but I feel really good about the fact that we’ve laid a foundation, the direction we want to go,” he said.
The city hired Valerie Croasmun of MS Consultants in Columbus to work with city officials — including the mayor, the city engineer and service director — to study possibilities for the east side.
Don Romancak, director of Lorain County Community Development, said the study’s roots were planted last fall after he and Forthofer discussed ways to improve the city in order to attract business development.
The study was paid for through a $35,000 grant from Lorain County Community Development. Romancak said the east-side proposal was built off the Lorain County Lakefront Connectivity Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative, which formulated a long-range plan presented last spring to redevelop Lorain County lakefront property.
Croasmun’s study focused on the area between U.S. Route 6 to state Route 2 from the Lorain County line to Baumhart Road.
“For the city of Vermilion, like any community, it’s vitally important that they establish a vision for their community and a plan on how to be able to implement that vision,” Romancak said.
As part of lakefront initiative, each community had to select a property to be re-imagined as a community asset. From that came the biggest challenge that Forthofer hopes he can help the city meet — revitalizing multiple land parcels along the Route 6 corridor near Baumhart Road for use as a park.
Another key part of Forthofer’s proposal is to transform vacant and agriculture land into an area for business development. The proposal suggests using a 35-acre residential lot along Route 6 between Claremont Road and Hazelwood Avenue as a location for a medical office.
Also included in the plan, as support to the land-use suggestions, are wider roads for bicyclists and the addition of landscaping and greenery in the area.
“It’s nice to have those aesthetic improvements, but the real meat is in the economic development areas,” Forthofer said.
The next step will be to review an implementation report from MS Consultants, which Forthofer said will arrive soon. He said it will suggest where and how to get funding for the projects, the possible costs of the projects and the priority of each recommendation.
The report is expected to be presented to Council by its next meeting July 8.