ELYRIA — With an eye toward not just moving vehicles but moving people, the city has updated its thoroughfare plan for the first time in more than 40 years.
The last plan, completed in 1972, was nothing more than a map of streets. The new plan, funded with a grant from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, looks at ways the city can improve transportation among major commercial areas, schools, parks, institutions and neighborhoods.
There are numerous recommendations in the plan, which was presented to City Council on Monday night.
Many include changing streets with long-established traffic patterns or trying to eliminate congested areas. For example, the well-traveled one-way Second and Third streets could turn into two-way streets with little problems to current traffic patterns, said Mayor Holly Brinda. Cleveland Street could change from four narrow lanes to one with three lanes and an established turning lane, she said.
Those ideas are just possibilities, but city Engineer Tim Ujvari said having a plan is better than no plan at all.
“It’s a great tool as we get into other planning initiatives,” Brinda agreed.
The plan was prepared by the city’s Engineering Department with assistance from LSL Planning Inc. and DLZ Corp.
Other plan recommendations include applying to NOACA to change the classification for some streets to make the city eligible for additional state funding, upgrading traffic and safety signals and limiting access points on heavily traveled streets.
The city also should incorporate regular traffic counts so decisions can be made based on real-time data, Brinda said.
In other news
A movement of compassion is gaining momentum in the city. City Council on Monday voted to get on board.
Elyria: A Compassionate City has a nice ring to it, if you ask Brinda.
She said she could not turn down the request from a group of clergy and other community leaders to launch a city of compassion initiative. Adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, the initiative is about encouraging residents to embrace compassion in actions and words.
“It’s all the things I wanted from the Mayor’s Office of Volunteer Engagement under one umbrella,” Brinda said. “It comes at no cost to the city to undertake this initiative, but could have a very positive effect in the city by changing attitudes. It’s not about us creating something else, but maximizing the things organizations are already doing to make a larger impact on social issues in our community.”
According to the Compassionate Action Network website, the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities is a global effort inspired by the Golden Rule (treat others as you wish to be treated yourself) to raise awareness of the benefits of compassionate action. Its purpose is to encourage city leaders from around the world to increase compassion through local initiatives, policies and projects.
So, what exactly will Elyria have to do?
Council took the first step Monday night by unanimously passing a resolution in support of Elyria adopting the Compassionate Cities Charter. Next, residents who would like to see a more organized approach toward identifying community needs and working together to address them through individual and collective acts of kindness should get involved.
The Rev. Bret Myers of St. Paul United Church of Christ said becoming a city of compassion is more than Elyria just adopting the charter as its own.
“Cities who have done this have found that people want to be in their cities because they know a community exists that cares about its residents,” he said. “Compassion is nothing more than love in action.”
Myers said while several local ministers have stepped up to be involved, the initiative is not religion-based.
“We are more interested in spreading the message of caring for each other,” he said.
The conversation on what Elyria can do toward becoming a more compassionate place will continue at 7 p.m. March 6 and for five Thursdays thereafter based on the novel, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. Reading the book is not a requirement for attending the meeting.
The first will be at St. Paul UCC, 9715 East River Road.