In its almost 200 year history, Mansfield’s Main Street has had many lives and, with the passing of time,and with changes in the ways in which downtowns function, it has developed a bit of a split personality.
That’s about to change, if a plan introduced this week to Mansfield City Council’s Streets Committee at its first regular meeting of the year gets a green light.
An overview of the Main Street Corridor Plan, developed by EDGE and K.E. McCartney & Associates, was provided by Plan steering committee members Downtown Mansfield, Inc. CEO Jennifer Kime and City Engineer Bob Bianchi, took Committee members on a visual and narrative walk through of the hoped-for changes to the City’s primary north-south street.
As noted by Kime, the idea is to create a corridor along North Main from W/E Fifth Street on the north to W/E First Street on the south, one which will create a sense of connection while at the time celebrating the individuality of each area.
Going from north to south, the project would begin with a “North Gateway” into the downtown area at the intersection by the City Mills building. Decorative brick crosswalks would be featured, as would short sandstone pillars which would match those in other areas of the project, and would celebrate Mansfield’s history and culture.
According to Bianchi, some of the 70,000 bricks salvaged from the paving of Columbia Avenue would be used in the North Gateway and throughout the area, giving the improvements an original look.
Moving south, the Carrousel area would be distinguished as an entertainment area, with a catenary (suspended) lighting system installed, and with vegetative screening to shield the view of the large municipal parking lot at Fourth and Main.
Additional plantings and decorative brick crosswalks would be included in the Central Connector area, that part of North Main Street between Fourth Street and Central Park.
The individuality of Mansfield’s Square and Central Park would be highlighted by the erection of decorative metal arches over the street that would echo those standing a century ago along the same street. These would form visual entrance ways into the Central Park area where the buildings along North and South Park Street intersect with Main Street.
Central Park would also include a “speed table” in the middle of the block, a traffic slowing device, and existing plaza areas in front of Park National Bank and Mechanics Bank would be updated as well.
Then, at First and Main, a South Gateway would have a similar appearance to its northern counterpart.
The Plan does show markings for a two-way Main Street, Bianchi noted, however he shared that “this is not a two way plan, it is a plan to enhance and beautiful Main Street.” That said, he also told Council members that with the level of investment, planners would be remiss if a two way update was not studied and, if found to be feasible, if it was not incorporated into the project.
Speaking of funding, the initial design phase, which is envisioned for the period between now and December 2023, would have a price tag of approximately $1 million, of which the City would be asked to fund 10% from permissive sales tax funds.
Constructing funding is envisioned as coming from the following:
No general fund monies would be expended, rather only dedicated funds would be used from the permissive sales tax, downtown improvement fund, sewer fund, and water fund.
Bianchi noted that the water line dates from the 1930s and is in need of replacement.
The entire project would be built during the construction season in 2024. Public and Council involvement would be sought throughout.
Council members had a handful of questions, including talking with stakeholders, the amount of Main Street “down time” during the project, if merchants had been included in planning or made aware, and if there was possibility of extending utility improvements north to Sixth Street.