Focus groupmeets

The group wants family-friendly spaces along U.S. 224 and Market Street.
BOARDMAN -- Creating a visually inviting focal point is one of the goals of a new community focus group dedicated to developing a plan for the township.
The focus group is forming around a core of township officials and planning experts, with plans to recruit more members. The core group, includes Kathy Miller, township trustee; Darren Crivelli, township zoning inspector; Dan Slagle, director of Boardman Park; Rachel McCartney, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments environmental planner; Bob Mastriana, architect and partner of the 4M Co. of Glenwood Avenue; and Kim Poma, Boardman Board of Education member. The panel met Monday.
Lacking a square
Members said the main problem in planning improvements and creating a sense of community is there is no "town square" area of the township. The township's "square" is the intersection of Market Street (state Route 7) and U.S. 224, which is the heart of the retail corridor.
To give people more of a sense of small-town community, a town-square type area is needed, they said.
The group suggested starting with the Boardman Park area and then focus improvements of different areas along the U.S. 224 and Market Street corridors.
"We need to get people and their passions involved," said McCartney, who lives in the township. She expressed the need for sidewalks and other family-friendly spaces.
"My goal is for children to be able to walk to school," she said.
Mastriana said the group could easily bring the many active, concerned people of the township together by tapping into established groups through civic clubs, churches and schools.
He and McCartney said projects such as creating boulevards, planting trees, adding sidewalks, street signs and functional, attractive streetlights will quickly improve the township's appearance and are short-term projects.
They said a tree-lined, well-lighted boulevard would be the focus of attention along the corridors rather than buildings that are in need of repair or demolition.
Completing projects that will quickly change the township's appearance will give people a better vision of what the township can become, they said.
Gathering places
Miller suggested the schools or the township's main fire station could be community gathering places. The township's main fire station, at U.S. 224 and Southern Boulevard, sits on several acres but is often overlooked, she said.
Miller noted the new group will work closely with Bill Barlow, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments transportation systems manager.
Barlow and URS Consultants of Akron are gathering community input on ways to alleviate traffic congestion on U.S. 224 between Interstate 680 and state Route 11. That study is funded by Eastgate and Ohio Department of Transportation.

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