They already know the Montrose area is known for its traffic headaches.
What area transportation planners want to know from the public is what they really think about the Akron area’s largest collection of shopping and dining venues after the car is parked.
“The premise of the study is to find ways to make it easier to walk around places and to have buildings look better and to have Montrose function better, more like a traditional neighborhood feel, making areas friendly for pedestrians, cyclists and bus riders,” said Jason Segedy, who heads the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), Greater Akron’s regional planning agency. “We all know that Montrose has lots of traffic problems, but this study is designed to survey would you ever consider walking around from store to store if crosswalks or sidewalks were put in. What would you like to see done differently in Montrose from a pedestrian standpoint or visual aesthetics?”
AMATS is funding the online survey through a Connecting Communities Planning Grant and partnering with Bath and Copley townships.
The $50,000 federal grant is to help formulate a plan for the area’s future.
“There’s really no focal point for Montrose or any sense of community or place when you’re there,” Segedy said. “It’s kinda like people go there to shop and then leave as quickly as possible.
“It does have an identity, it’s called Montrose.”
A goal, he said, would be to work with townships to come up with a plan to encourage more walkers or bikers in the area and perhaps more use of public transportation to get from Point A to Point B.
“We’re going to look at how the buildings are situated and ask could some of the parking be eliminated or could we do something like add some more green space.”
The survey’s initial goal is to gauge the public and business owners to help come up with a stronger sense of place for the area.
“We are hoping to develop a plan that will make Montrose a more user-friendly place or to soften it or make it a more attractive place and not ‘Montrose the Nightmare,’ ” said Copley Township Trustee Helen Humphrys.
Bath Township Administrator Vito Sinopoli agrees that Montrose traffic can be frightening enough for those stuck in it, but even more so for a pedestrian.
“It always concerns me when I see someone running across Route 18, there are seven lanes there,” said Sinopoli. “It lacks sidewalks that would help people travel in and around that area. We are just looking at an existing area and trying to improve some of the design mistakes that existed from the beginning.”
Sinopoli believes marked crosswalks would help as well as more bus transportation.
“Hopefully this study will give us some good recommendations,” he said. “Some recommendations for improvements that are workable. Anyone can come up with ideas, but ultimately they have to be feasible and economically feasible, changes that will better serve that area.”
Sinopoli said input from business owners will play a big part in any plan because some of the improvements would have to be made on private property.
One-on-one meetings with business owners and also public forums for workers, residents and shoppers are also planned.
“This project will get the ball rolling coming up with a plan and generating ideas for improving walkability and the aesthetics, and when this is done AMATS could provide future federal funds to carry out the actual projects like putting sidewalks on Route 18 or improving the crosswalks in the area,” said Segedy.
Environment Design Group of the Akron-Cleveland area was recently hired to help develop a plan. The plan is expected to be completed by next autumn.
The surveys are available on the websites of AMATS, Bath and Copley townships or by using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BetterMontrose on the Internet.
The surveys will be taken for the next four to six weeks and possibly longer.
“Reviewing the surveys won’t be a challenge,” Segedy said. “The challenging part is to help improve Montrose, and we are up to the challenge.”
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.