More downtown parking spaces will also be created this summer when the city resurfaces a handful of worn-down streets.
The $71,000 project has been added to Amherst’s already $1.1 million worth of summer paving projects, set to begin after the Fourth of July.
Mayor Mark Costilow said a vacant piece of land behind LifeCare Ambulance will be paved to provide about 20 more spots to the municipal parking lot between Tenney and Park avenues. Some re-striping will be done to create another four spots in the lot, he said.
The cost will be covered by a Community Development Block Grant won by Main Street Amherst, the local nonprofit that promotes the city’s historical downtown district and businesses.
“It shows we’re trying to improve the downtown to help the businesses,” Costilow said. “It seems like all the restaurants are full in the evenings… We’re at a point where nobody can grow because we have no room for new people. It’s going to be that double-edged sword where we create more parking and that creates more business. That’s a good cycle to be in.”
The goal is to alleviate evening traffic when the dinner and bar crowds fill up all available spaces.
Costilow said that trend has never been more apparent than Sunday during game seven of the NBA Finals, when taverns were packed with Cleveland Cavaliers fans watching their team win its first title.
The whole downtown block erupted when the clock ran out with a 93-89 final for the LeBron James-led Cavs. “The noise was amazing. You could hear it everywhere,” the mayor said.
Wine and gold aside, Costilow said his plan is to foster downtown Amherst’s growth to the east, inviting tourists and diners to see what the city offers in the way of daytime retail and service businesses.
Precision Paving has been tapped for both the parking and streets jobs.
Work is expected to start in the center of town and move gradually north, encompassing Church Street, Spring Street, Quail Court, Killdeer Court, Woodhill Drive, and Pearl Street before wrapping up on Meadowbrook Drive.
The last stretch is arguably the most work-intensive and controversial.
It includes installation of 11 new catch basins to hand storm water. Ultra-low oil prices also led officials to vote in favor of an asphalt overlay on top of crumbling concrete, though several Meadowbrook residents objected.
Costilow offered to allow residents to pay the difference to have their street paved with concrete instead, an average cost of about $7,800 per homeowner (depending on frontage). Sixty percent of the stretch’s 27 property owners needed to agree to pay but only a few agreed to do so.
Also on the agenda this year is a separate $644,800 paving project on Cooper Foster Park Road west of Lake Street. After state funds are released later this summer, the Ohio Department of Transportation also plans to pave Rt. 58 from Cleveland Avenue south into Amherst Township.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.