Spruce up Lorain Road
By Kevin Kelley
Published Jan. 24, 2007
western edge of Lorain Road within Fairview Park has many well-maintained
buildings, but is not pedestrian friendly enough.
That’s the conclusion of a study by the Akron-based
Floyd Browne Group, which was commissioned by the city to analyze
western Lorain Road from its border with North Olmsted to West 223rd
Experts from the engineering and planning firm will
discuss their findings at a public meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at
the Fairview Park Senior Center, located just south of City Hall.
Owners of several Lorain Road businesses are expected to attend.
Mayor Eileen Patton said the goal of the study is
to identify manageable and achievable projects which can enhance
that part of Lorain Road. The enhancements would be achieved through
a public-private partnership, she added.
“We want to review with the business owners our design
guidelines that were approved a couple years ago identifying signage
and how to handle storefronts that may not have the room to allow
monument signs, along with appropriate colors to enhance the area,”
Patton said. “We are interested in hearing from the business owners
and the tenants the issues of parking, pedestrian walk-ins, landscaping,
At a City Council committee meeting Jan. 15, authors
of the Floyd Browne Group report briefed Patton and council members
on their findings.
A diverse mix of commercial, residential and office
buildings along western Lorain Road creates a dynamic environment,
the report authors said. On-street parking benefits businesses but
needs to be better defined, they added.
Parking lots in front of businesses often obstruct
pedestrian access to those businesses, said Dennis J. Mersky, senior
vice president at Floyd Browne. Businesses should consider creating
shared parking lots to replace the current situation where every
business has its own driveway and parking lot.
In short, Mersky said vehicles should not be seen
as obstructing pedestrian access to the entrances of businesses.
Using aerial photographs, Mersky showed ample parking
space is often present behind businesses, especially on the north
side of Lorain Road.
Jim Kennedy, Fairview Park’s director of planning
and development, said there’s not as great a shortage of parking
in the city as many people believe. He added creating a public parking
lot may help.
Photos in the study showed the numerous driveways
and curb cuts along Lorain Road.
“They’re all separate entrances and they don’t compliment
each other,” Kennedy said.
Intersections are too car-oriented, the report concluded.
“Traffic calming” measures, such as landscape enhancement and paving
crosswalks with different materials such as brick were suggested
as methods of benefiting pedestrians and corner businesses.
Enhancing RTA bus stops would also make the area more
attractive to pedestrians, Mersky said.
Sign clutter is common in the area, Mersky said. “Mostly
it’s ineffective for the business community,” he added.
Signs that can be read from cars traveling in both
directions along Lorain Road — that is, signs perpendicular to the
street — were recommended as a solution.
The study recommends expanding the city’s signage
guidelines. Several businesses which utilize canopies to enhance
their entrances were lauded by Floyd Browne as good examples.
The study also suggested making even temporary improvements
to vacant or underutilized buildings while long-term viable tenants
or owners are sought.
The study was funded through a $50,000 grant from
the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and a $10,000 matching
grant from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas McGowan III.