Land for enterprise, new facilities in metropolis parks and a contemporary outlook on downtown are on the to-do record in Norwalk, even throughout a pandemic 12 months, stated Mayor Dave Gentle.
The initiatives are on the drafting board for the first-term mayor who readily shares credit score for concepts about bettering the group.
Like many cities, novel coronavirus precipitated Norwalk’s metropolis leaders to accentuate their efforts towards public well being and security.
Norwalk stays a secure group between Toledo and Cleveland, with room to develop and good colleges. The vacationer points of interest across the Sandusky space sit to the north and Summit Motorsports Park can draw 30,000 individuals to its weekend occasions.
Now residents and enterprise homeowners are suggesting new initiatives that may turn into actuality, the mayor stated.
“We’ve received quite a lot of constructive issues right here so now’s the time to push,” Gentle stated. “Coronavirus threw a fly within the ointment, however I’ve nonetheless received to suppose we’ll come out of this. The people who find themselves courageous sufficient to speculate now, make investments in the neighborhood, I feel are going to repay large dividends down the highway.”
Meet the mayor
Gentle is new to the mayor’s workplace, however to not the Maple Metropolis.
“I actually love Norwalk and I care about the way forward for the group,” he stated.
A Norwalk native, Gentle received his first job as a highschool senior at Norwalk Furnishings, the place his father labored for 36 years. He would work there 10 years, and he and a good friend additionally opened a gymnasium that operated six years downtown.
After finishing the police academy, in 1984 Gentle started full-time work for the Norwalk Police Division. He remained there about 34 years, rising via the ranks to turn into chief and main the power for greater than eight years.
“When I retired I assumed it was nice for about two weeks,” Gentle stated. “Then I used to be antsy. I needed to do one thing.”
He returned to work as a probation officer for Choose James Conway at Huron County Widespread Pleas Courtroom.
The court docket started an intensive supervision program to assist drug offenders get into therapy whereas awaiting trial. First-time defendants with out accompanying offenses might get prices dismissed in the event that they stayed clear for a 12 months, Gentle stated.
A brand new take a look at the consequences of the opioid epidemic impressed his run for mayor and in November 2019, voters tapped him to guide town. Working as a Democrat, Gentle topped incumbent Republican two-term Mayor Rob Duncan.
North aspect of city
Gentle’s marketing campaign platform included a brand new push for financial improvement in Norwalk.
On the north aspect of city, Emerald Parkway dead-ended at a three-acre parcel that years in the past was to turn into a brand new resort.
The Nice Recession stymied that plan, the mayor stated.
However three different companies are adjoining — the Bob Evans restaurant, Fisher-Titus Medical Middle Handy Care, and Premiere Theatre eight on Theatre Drive to the east.
Fisher-Titus Medical Middle is constructing its new Surgical procedure Middle of North Central on Emerald Parkway. The hospital and neighbor Dan Shupe donated land and town constructed the highway to attach Emerald Parkway to Theatre Drive.
Gentle is advertising and marketing the positioning for a brand new resort and sit-down restaurant, with the present restaurant, movie show and healthcare out the entrance door and plenty of extra shops and eating places close by on U.S. Route 250.
“It might be an enormous constructive improvement out on the north aspect of city,” Gentle stated, including “I wouldn’t thoughts seeing some increased tech companies come to city.”
Metropolis officers minimize the ribbon to open the Emerald Drive extension on the finish of July. Town paid for the highway with capital enchancment cash saved when different avenue repairs got here in below bid.
In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gentle put out the decision for a brand new group of advisers.
They’ve a lot of playful working titles, together with the Artistic Minds Committee, and collect on-line or across the mayor’s convention desk.
Gentle stated Norwalk supporters have emerged to drift doable solutions to 3 questions:
• What can we do to attract individuals to Norwalk?
• What can we do to make companies wish to relocate to Norwalk?
• What can we do to affect native highschool graduates to return to town?
Gentle famous his personal son earned his grasp’s diploma and moved to Cincinnati for a job.
Locations like Cincinnati, downtown Sandusky and the Lorain Port Authority’s Black River Landing have begun creating facilities that entice individuals, he stated.
The committee’s job is to brainstorm about enjoyable methods to enhance Norwalk.
“I assume all it takes is getting these individuals collectively, and man, they’re pumped,” Gentle stated. “The concepts are all getting executed. It’s not simply lip service after which they go away.”
Concepts hit the streets
The primary result’s laws to permit residents to drive golf carts across the metropolis.
The carts should be licensed and inspected. They will cross Route 250 however are barred from driving on that highway, which will get busy with customer site visitors, particularly on the north aspect of city.
“It’s simply form of a enjoyable factor that you just see individuals out driving round in golf carts, going out to eat,” Gentle stated.
He intends to get a cart and famous they’re much cheaper than Harley-Davidson bikes, one other of his favourite types of transportation.
The administration and downtown companies are inspecting a designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA. In that district, buyers can stroll round outdoors with beer, wine or drinks in particular cups.
“Different communities have discovered it’s an actual success, it really attracts companies that wish to be in that DORA space,” Gentle stated. Council consideration was deliberate in August.
Tooling round on golf carts or having fun with a drink, individuals don’t must be shoulder to shoulder in a bar, Gentle stated.
The mayor and the Artistic Minds Committee even have begun scouting areas for a brand new meals truck court docket, which might function a park and group gathering house.
When the committee prompt upgrading town’s Christmas season Santa Home, the “grasp elves” of JDB Home Improvements responded by constructing an precise tiny home. It’s transportable with working doorways, home windows, electrical wiring and a detachable entry ramp.
Town already has begun planning and rearranging for the parks in 2021.
Town has dedicated $37,000 in Neighborhood Growth Block Grant cash for a brand new playground at McGuan Park. Further fundraising has begun for the undertaking, estimated to price $149,000.
There might be gear for youngsters of all bodily talents and Gentle stated supporters intend to make it the very best of its type in northern Ohio.
Suhr Household Park will get a brand new splash pad and new public restroom facility. Each are firsts for the downtown.
Town has dedicated block grant cash to pay for that undertaking, estimated to price $113,000.
“All in all I feel the entire consensus of all of those initiatives and future plans that we have now for our metropolis is all about how this group does nothing however come collectively for the betterment and the way they only make issues occur,” stated Lisa J. Hivnor, govt administrative assistant to Gentle. “They’re those approaching us and the mayor — ‘Can I discuss to the mayor?’ They’re those simply popping out of the woodwork. They make us look good.”
“They make me look good,” Gentle stated.
“We’ve received actually nice individuals right here that wish to see it thrive and flourish,” Hivnor stated.