Thursday, August 14, 2003

Mason looking over ideas for downtown

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Momentum to revitalize downtown is picking up again, years after it was first discussed.

Though City Council has not voted to approve the plan since it was officially presented to them in a December work session, business leaders and residents have been meeting regularly with council's Downtown Mason Committee. The Downtown Mason Association, which is meeting with the council committee again today, is helping city officials set priorities.

An entertainment district, an amphitheater with seating cut into a hillside and a series of small parks were among the ideas in the proposal, submitted by Bowling Green, Ohio-based Poggemeyer Design Group last year.

"The Poggemeyer plan is a concept, and that's the way we're looking at it," said Sallie Nally, owner of the Mason Sign Co. "The semantics of the plan are up for negotiation. The point is - we just want a philosophy."

Recently, the group has discussed ways of routing through-traffic around downtown with increased directional signs. The plan also suggests traffic circles at major intersections as a way to make traffic flow better and make downtown more pedestrian friendly.

City Council, while expressing interest, has not approved the downtown plan or hired a downtown manager, a step proponents have said is a key component to making the ideas a reality.

"I'd like to see a whole lot less talk and a whole lot more action," Councilwoman Charlene Pelfrey said. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see all the vacancies and the different rental properties downtown. ... We need to drum up some life and some business downtown."

Revitalizing downtown has been talked about for a number of years. In 1999, the city hired a Loveland-based consultant to spearhead the project and oversee nearly 100 community volunteers who helped develop the plan.


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