About 30 people showed up Thursday for the last in a series of public meetings about the community surrounding Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village.
CANTON The next step in a study about the area of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to figure out how to get recommendations implemented once consultants leave town.
About 30 people showed up Thursday for the last in a series of public meetings about a federally funded study about ways for the community surrounding Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village to capitalize on the development. Consultants with Gannett Fleming presented their recommendations and gave people a chance to discuss the results.
The funding for the year-long project, which came from the Federal Highway Administration and the Ohio Department of Transportation, only provided enough for a consulting firm to produce a report to leave with local government officials. If any recommendations are to be implemented, the money will have to be secured elsewhere, and agencies here will have to take the initiative to pursue them.
The goals were to figure out how to better connect community assets to the development at the Village, to get the public engaged in the conversation and to create a guiding document for future use.
The study didn't deal at all with plans for the multi-part Village, just the surrounding area. But it did plan for multiple scenarios based on the potential tourism success of the Village and came up with tiered recommendations for several possible levels of tourism, including the current level.
Criteria for recommendations included project cost, political readiness, project readiness and public desire. Bryan Newell, with Gannett Fleming, said the idea wasn't just to encourage infrastructure to be built.
"The whole point of the study is to benefit the community," he said.
• Improve the Fulton Road corridor.
This recommendation suggests redoing Fulton from the highway to downtown Canton. It would include changing lanes, streetscaping, and improving signage and sidewalks to make it a corridor visitors would want to drive or walk.
• Create a pedestrian promenade underneath the Interstate 77 overpass near the Hall.
The idea would be to create space for street games or events along a pedestrian promenade and to widen the entrance to the Hall to four lanes. Renderings show programmable lighting and seating and landscaping.
• Develop an overlay zoning code that would be used across communities near the Hall.
The idea would be to encourage mixed-use development and pedestrian-friendly design. Current zoning, however, is auto-centric and suburban, with set-back buildings and street-front parking.
• Conduct a regional parking study.
The study largely would focus on the area around the Hall and downtown Canton and look at usage rates and capacity. Consultants suggest that parking visitors downtown would reduce stress on the Village area and would draw people to local restaurants and shops.
• Build an integrated visitors app.
An app would be a way to digitally connect visitors to the county's assets and events. It could be used to make restaurant reservations, find parking, make scheduling trips easier, and map the quickest route to a destination. There's no app yet in the United States that can do all of these things, though some private organizations (such as Walt Disney World) have apps that are similar in scope.
On Thursday, the local government officials and city residents in attendance had the chance to talk with planners and fill out comment cards with their thoughts.
People asked questions about whether overhead rail was a possibility (it wasn't studied), whether the existing rail line will be used (there wasn't a lot of momentum behind the idea), why the study didn't tap into tourism happening in the New Philadelphia area (it was outside the scope of the study), and how much infrastructure improvements could cost in total (consultants don't know, but the most expensive suggestions were pulled from the recommendations).
Recommendations will be refined, and ways to encourage their implementation will be defined.
The finished plan is scheduled to be submitted to the Stark County Regional Planning Commission by next month.
Bob Nau, executive director of regional planning, said one of the first recommendations there's interest in pursuing is fixing the Fulton Road corridor.
Reach Alison at 330-580-8312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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