Money will be sought to not only improve the corridor, but to beautify it.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LIBERTY -- Busy Belmont Avenue in Liberty Township will be spruced up beginning in the spring to make it safer and to help spur development.
In March, construction will begin on sidewalks from the Youngstown city limits at Gypsy Lane north to Church Hill Park near Churchill-Hubbard Road (state Route 304).
Darlene St. George, township administrator, said the township has received a $394,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to lay more than 10,500 feet of sidewalks.
Sidewalks: The walkways will help pedestrians get from motels to restaurants and other businesses more safely, St. George said.
Gary Diorio, project engineer, said that, depending on the bids, there will be 10,500 to 12,500 feet of walkway.
"People don't come to Liberty to vacation," said township Trustee Jack Simon.
Travelers, however, fill motels during the summer and holidays because the area is centrally located to travelers along Interstate 80.
There also is heavy commercial and commuter traffic, especially weekdays.
The township also hopes to attract medical professional offices near Northside Medical Center and Tod Children's Hospital.
Simon said he wants those who work in Liberty to be able to walk to restaurants rather than getting in their cars and driving to other areas to eat.
Children also will be able to ride their bicycles along Belmont, something they can't do safely now.
Bus shelters: In addition, the trustee noted, he wants to see sheltered bus stops. Riders now flag down buses anywhere along the road.
At the same time, Diorio has been coordinating with ODOT the installation of crosswalks and signals along Belmont, St. George said.
To add to the "major face-lift," St. George said, the township will apply for government transportation funds to beautify the stretch of road by adding greenery, something it is virtually devoid of now, and getting rid of old signs.
The administrator said she doesn't know how much money available, but the deadline to apply to the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, a regional planning agency, is March 1.
Community funding: Ken Sympson, transportation engineer with the agency, said $1 million will be available to communities in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
The money is enough to fund four to six projects that will be awarded in June, Sympson said, noting that competitive grants range from $100,000 to $200,000.
As of late, most of the township's commercial development has been north of state Route 304.
St. George said once businesses see the community is taking pride in the area, they may locate here.