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Huron maps out future

Andy Ouriel • Jan 10, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Community members received a better understanding of how Huron officials plan on improving the area’s quality of life.

About 50 people attended a state of the city address Thursday night at the Huron Public Library.

Delivered by Huron city manager Andy White, the hour-long presentation delved deep into what the community accomplished in 2013 — and just as important, what officials plan on achieving next year and beyond — to enhance Huron.

All these upgrades circle back to a $9 million master plan, a decade-long blueprint aimed at luring businesses while also persuading people to stay or move into Huron.

Here’s a quick look at what Huron did in 2013, plans on finishing in 2014 and some goals beyond this year:

Past (2013)

• Booming budget

Diligent spending, without raising taxes or slashing city services, of late helped create a $931,000 surplus, or yearover-year savings, in this year’s budget. The savings is a significant amount, considering Huron’s everyday operating budget — covering services such as police and fire — totals $4 million.

• Widening Rye Beach Road

Huron officials acquired a grant to fund about 80 percent of a $518,000 project increasing Rye Beach Road’s width near Sawmill Parkway. A bigger road directly occurred from International Automotive Components expanding its workforce. Executives vowed to up its work force from 593 employees in summer 2012 to about 750.

• Enhancing Fabens Park

Fabens Park received both a $150,000 state grant to build a half-mile trail along the park’s perimeter and a $100,000 donation from Huron Township for playground equipment. The scheduled improvements amplify other recent upgrades totaling $681,000, including an expanded parking lot; new asphalt for better pathways; a new electrical conduit system to support enhanced lighting and better drainage systems.

Present (2014)

• Updating the zoning map

Huron officials want to condense a decades-old zoning map to more accurately reflect the city’s current layout. A new map, shrinking from more than 10 different zones to just a few, should also simplify matters for businesses and residents seeking to move into Huron.

• Revitalizing downtown

The plan to draw more people into downtown hinges on highlighting long-neglected waterfront features and reconfiguring Main Street, including better access into the Huron Boat Basin and Amphitheater.

• Continuing development at former ConAgra site

The former ConAgra site is a key focal point in Huron’s rejuvenation.

Almost two years ago, officials imploded grain elevators and other structures on the site once hosting a grain elevator. The now-open space freed up waterfront space, a place residents couldn’t access for about 75 years.

In total, the land’s split into two 10-acre chunks: One side boasts the boat launch and the other a spot for future private development. Today officials are marketing a 10-acre site as a place where some development can occur, whether it’s a shopping center, condominiums, a business park or a mixture of commercial, residential and industrial activity.

Other improvements have also recently sprung up, such as a 600-foot public walking path extending along the property, just off Cleveland Road East north of River Road.

City officials obtained an $8.3 million grant to acquire land, construct a 10-acre boat launch and demolish the former ConAgra facility.

Future (2014 and beyond)

• Improving the U.S. 6 corridor

Engineers and city officials are examining ways to make the divided U.S. 6, splitting Huron into a northern and southern portion area, safer.

• Creating a master plan for development on Rye Beach Road

Rye Beach Road’s ripe for business activity, especially at the Cleveland Road intersection where vacant and abandoned properties litter the area. About 4 million cars pass through the area annually, mainly because of Cedar Point. City officials are exploring potential partnerships in creating a master plan to springboard community development.

• Securing Safe Routes to Schools money

Officials want state money, from a pot called Safe Routes to Schools, aimed at enhancing or creating pathways near area schools. The program has funded bike paths, signs and other improvements all relating to making communities safer for pedestrians.

If Huron secures money, officials designated improvements in and around Shawnee Elementary School and Woodlands Intermediate School. The state initiative provides money to local governments.

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