SHARON Public must join in study, firm says

Riverfront development, saving buildings and the downtown image will be key focal points.
SHARON, Pa. -- Public participation in a downtown revitalization study is critical, according to a planning consultant for E.G. & amp; G. Inc., the firm hired by the city to do that study.
The city will hold a public input hearing at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 in the municipal building to find out what people think the downtown needs, Joseph C. Mazzola said.
They key here is economic development and the study will look for ways for Sharon to project its best image. The goal is to keep what business is here and attract new businesses to a district bounded by Connelly Boulevard on the south, Silver Street on the north, Irvine Avenue on the west and Sharpsville Avenue on the east, he said.
Sharon secured a state grant to pay for the study and E.G. & amp; G., an Akron company, will get $50,000 for its efforts. A plan is to be ready for city consideration within six months.
"We do have a good core of businesses downtown," said Mayor David O. Ryan. "What we need is fill-ins."
This is a plan that won't be left sitting on a shelf when it's done, Ryan said, though he admitted there is no money to implement any changes.
Looking at funding: Mazzola said part of the study will identify potential funding sources. Private investment will be a key component, he said, explaining that businesses with a stake in downtown Sharon are expected to participate in the revitalization.
"This is very critical for the city of Sharon. It's time to get a plan together and move on it," Ryan said.
Mazzola said he has no opinions or cost estimates to offer at this point, but the study will focus on riverfront development along the Shenango River, buildings, the downtown image and entryways (streets) into the business district.
Ryan has a number of items he wants to see developed, including reopening Silver Street to two-way traffic, improvement to State Street storefronts, a small hotel in the downtown area, street resurfacing and new traffic lights.
E.G. & amp; G. has done more than 50 downtown revitalization projects, Mazzola said, including a number of riverfront developments.

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