SHARON Pondering downtown possibilities
Storefront and traffic-light improvements as well as a small hotel could be on the wish list after a study.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
SHARON, Pa. -- Newly elected Mayor David O. Ryan has no preconceived notions of what a downtown revitalization study will recommend, but he has some ideas he would like to see included.
"I'd sure like to have the fronts of these buildings fixed up," he said, gesturing toward the stores on State Street, the town's main commercial roadway.
"I'd also like to see a hotel in downtown Sharon," Ryan said.
He's not looking for a mammoth complex that includes a restaurant but favors a modest 30-to-40-room establishment that might house commercial offices on its first floor.
There are enough restaurants in the downtown area to serve hotel clients and another isn't needed, he said, suggesting that the general area of Sharon City Centre could be a likely building spot.
Funding: Sharon City Council agreed to the revitalization study last year and secured a $75,000 state grant for it.
Council paid $25,000 of that amount to businessman James E. Winner Jr., who put up $25,000 to hire Pittsburgh architect Ross Bianco to take a preliminary look at the downtown business district.
One focus of the study is expected to be the Shenango River, which flows through the business district, and Bianco came up with some ideas to help make the river more attractive.
Large murals lining the banks, gondolas in the water for rides and installation of a floating dock were some of the suggestions.
The rest of the grant will pay a consulting firm for the formal study.
Council awarded that job to E.G. & amp;G. Inc. of Akron in November.
Ryan said a steering committee of business people and residents has been appointed to oversee the consultant's findings; that body held its first meeting last week.
Target area: The study targets an area bounded by Silver Street on the north, Connelly Boulevard on the south, Sharpsville Avenue on the east and Irvine Avenue on the west. The goal is to attract more businesses and keep the ones that are here now.
Ryan said he would like to see the business district get all new traffic lights that can be synchronized to help with traffic flow.
New pedestrian lighting would also be helpful, he said.
Most of the streets in the study area need to be resurfaced, and Ryan said he would still like to see Silver Street reopened to two-way traffic between Penn and Sharpsville avenues.
City council voted in 1979 to make that three-block section one-way for westbound traffic only, though officials say now they don't know why that change was made.
The city did briefly reopen it to two-way traffic while portions of State Street were being rebuilt in the 1980s so east-west traffic would have an alternative route, but it reverted to one-way only when the project was completed.
Costly work: It could be an expensive proposition because at least three sets of traffic lights would have to be replaced to meet current state standards.
Former Mayor Robert T. Price had estimated the cost at $100,000.
Money will be the key to making any improvements, Ryan said.
Once the study is done, the city will have to seek financial assistance to act on recommendations, he said, noting the city has no pool of funds available to do the work.