How would you improve downtown?

City commissioner hopefuls explain how they would lure businesses, tourists to the area
Andy Ouriel
Oct 19, 2013
Just like vinyl records or Justin Timberlake’s music career, downtown Sandusky is all about an impressive comeback.

About 30 new businesses — everything from restaurants to clothing shops — have joined the makeup of downtown over the past few years.

There’s also a growing list of festivals and regular events, including the Sandusky Art Walk, Cruisin’ by the Bay and Ohio Bike Week, the latter drawing a record 160,000 motorcyclists and tourists this past summer.

City commission candidates view downtown as the seed to continue growing interest in Sandusky. At a recent Register political forum at Sandusky High School, a student asked how candidates would improve downtown in hopes of luring businesses and enticing people to visit.

Here are the responses from the seven candidates vying for three open seats on Nov. 5:

• “It’s the government’s responsibility to stay out of the way and we make it easy for private investment, building departments and building officials to accomplish what they need to do.” — Dick Brady

• “We’ve got to support the Sandusky State Theatre and the arts in this community. That is so critical in the community. We need to stay out of the way of business and let them do what they do best.” — Diedre Cole, city commissioner    

• “Reinforce survival and safety. I believe the city of Sandusky, because of the high winds and rains that we’ve had within downtown, we should have a disaster center.” — Patricia Ferguson

• “We need to focus on the housing stock. People come to a city first. Once you have residents, they will support businesses that are here. We got some really cool old houses in Sandusky. A lot of it is really affordable and easy to heat and cool.” — Dennis Murray Jr.

• “We need people with ideas to implement them. We’re sitting on revolving loan fund money available for entrepreneurs. It’s up to government to create an environment for these businesses to flourish in.” — John Hamilton, ex officio mayor

• “We need to continue what we are doing. Downtown has experienced a great rebirth, and that’s mostly been through private investment. The city has money it can loan for aspiring or existing businesses. We obviously have to keep that going. We have to do whatever we can to encourage local entrepreneurs and people with ideas.” — Scott Schell

• “I think we should be continuing on the path we are on.” — Naomi Twine

Comments

FlyBoy86

Vinyl Records never went out of style. The quality of sound is much better on one. The only reason why they are popular because of the hipsters.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

A few hipster jokes for you!

Q. Why did the hipster burn his mouth on his pizza?
A. Because he ate the slice before it was cool.

Q. How did the hipster drown?
A. She fell into the mainstream.

FlyBoy86

Those are good, lol.

Colonel Angus

Burn it to the ground.

yedr556's picture
yedr556

Google is paying 80$ per hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family. Yesterday I bought a top of the range Lancia after having made $9458 this month. Its the most-financialy rewarding I've had. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out http://ow.ly/pAu07

Elwood

Bulldozer

fifteenthgreen

More industry!

Clark W. Griswald

Tornado

Smcc Student

+1

bb32

get all them drug dealers off the streets after the bars close they all start coming around the bars downtown sandusky needs to make a change and get reed of this

Contango

Sell it to Donald Trump for $1.00 OBO.

Doug7880

I think Trump is smarter than that... less than 10 cents. If you put up for auction you would be better off you might pull in 25

Contango

Re: "I think Trump is smarter than that"

Though "tongue in check," I'm 'somewhat' serious in the need for a developer.

Sam

On Friday or Saturday evening, almost impossible to get a parking space, State, restaurants filled, yes it could be improved but its much better than many downtowns. Compare it to Fremont, Lorain or Elyria, all comparable size communities Sandusky wins easy.

VOTENO

.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

How to improve downtown?

1. If parking fees through meters or the like are put in place that money should go solely into a fund to improve the downtown area so that the city can put that money to use elsewhere to repair roads, mow, and provide other services for the residents.

EDIT: Adding to this point that perhaps it could be brought up that those who live or run a business downtown pay a special 1% extra fee or tax of some kind to go into the same dedicated fund in order to hire police/security for the downtown area or to just go into continuous improvements in our own corner of Sandusky. Those downtown would be mostly taking care of themselves leaving the rest of the budget to be put to work elsewhere. SO LONG AS THOSE FUNDS ARE USED AS MEANT IN A CLEARLY OUTLINED ZONE!

2. More events will bring more people downtown all year long. If it means getting Victoria an assistant planner or the like to help not just facilitate but coordinate then so much the better. In my store I call it "Organized Play" and it has consistently brought people downtown to spend their time and money as well as create memories and opportunities to post on social media.

3. Not just market the revolving loan but offer sessions to educate people on how to apply so they can better understand it. The same for brownfield restoration cost abatements and other programs meant to spur economic activity.

4. Host some kind of public forum (or series of them) and invite business owners and residents to come and offer ideas for what they'd like to see or do downtown. Many people have an "wouldn't it be nice if we had a..." idea.

5. Improve the aesthetics downtown. They are not "necessary" and it does cost money, but it shows that there is an active investment in the area. People want to be where others are. Where things are going on. Putting arches over the streets like on the Short North in Columbus would increase lighting, safety, and beauty. The baskets are nice and seasonal, but maybe get more than just two banners for the poles? There's a lot that can be done with this.

6. Free public Wi-Fi, and I say that knowing it will compete with my business. It is too valuable a resource to not be able to make available.

7. Market the downtown not just to investors and residents but to university film schools, private movie studios, and the like to attract filming business. Even if the downtown is the setting for a burnt-out, post-apocalyptic zombie horror movie because of how it looks we were still featured. Just putting it out there, but we are a zombie shelter here at the shop. Just sayin'.

There's a few ideas that hopefully span the realistic and immediate to the fanciful and long-term.

fifteenthgreen

The State is not big enough for any major draw.

FlyBoy86

Then why did Ron White sell out both shows? I don't like him, but my wife does. If he were to come back, I know she'd want to go again. My point is, the State can sell out.

fifteenthgreen

Ron White? Enough said. :)

Informed

Right, but it's not big enough for bigger-named attractions.

BabyCakes

Tear it all down and expand Cedar Point parking.

From the Grave

Expand the cemetery.

4shizzle

good answer

badboy

Take a trip in the wayback machine to 1955. It was a "downtown" then.

looking around

If you look at the history of downtown Sandusky it's apparent that much change has taken place. Look at the pictures on display at several area businesses and you will note all the second and third floors of the buildings which are still recognizable were occupied either by business or residential. The streets were bustling with pedestrian traffic as well as street car transit. The waterfront was full of ships and smaller boats involved in transportation of goods and people. Downtown was the epicenter of the community.

What has happened? Commerce changed, and even in those days certain aspects of life downtown was not agreeable to many who lived there. Soon folks began to spread out to what we now call the suburbs and surrounding townships. Businesses followed. The suburbs and townships flourished because of industry and employment that supported a tax base and middle class lifestyle. As time went by the downtown area was more or less abandoned, as it was in many city's that went through these transitional times.

Fast forward to the late ninety's and we see a reemergence of interest in these areas, an interest from an historical sense as well as a vision of what could be done with this unpolished gem. We envision entertainment venues, housing, various commercial entities that we feel are desirable and viable. We try to figure out ways to sterilize the area from unwanted elements that may threaten that vision.

The hardest obstacle to overcome is the fact that we have lost that base of commerce. Industry that has supported the overall populace inclusive of the surrounding townships has dwindled. Support for the type of visions that investors have is hard to find these days in this area.

A lack of optional transportation to bring outside interest in is non existent. Some talk of a rail system between Cleveland and Toledo.

What we have downtown now with recent improvements would make many investors interested if they felt that enough people were here that could and would support their ventures. I think a lot of old money is still in control of the property's that will never do anything with them. Perhaps it's time to look at reasonable offers. Most of the buildings require major investment to renovate and sadly the only interest seems to be on the ground floors leaving the upper floors shuttered and in disrepair.

It's a shame that building inspectors and owners allowed these upper floors to erode to the condition that they now are in. The cost of clean up and renovation of many are not feasible given the return on investment.

With the lack of commerce and industry we are completely relying on entertainment and tourism, all which requires expendable income from the participants. That's a tough sell.

I've visited many downtown districts that have undergone revitalization programs. They all struggle, large or small. Seasonal areas such as ours struggle the hardest.

I think one of the main things in drawing people is the ability to offer them accommodations. They don't want to stay out on 250 and drive into town unable to find parking or being unfamiliar not knowing where to park. Perhaps a continuous mass transit service from various points convenient to the ridership that would provide service from open to close for all venues.

It would be nice if someone like Hoty would take an interest in renovating these beautiful old buildings and offering leased space or all out sale by floor or building.

My hat is off to those who have in the past years invested and promoted the downtown district, they have carried the torch and made our area a much more desirable and interesting place to live and play. I hope we will see a continuance in interest and support.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Expanding further on my "wouldn't it be great if we had a..." point above:

1. Hotel (preferably thematic to the area and not a cookie-cutter chain)
2. An appropriately-sized convention facility. This is what I use for inspiration: http://mononaterrace.com/
3. A combination of the above?
4. Is there a charter fishing vessel based out of docks downtown?

fifteenthgreen

Casino!

Brick Hamland

Casino would have been the ticket. How many of us drive to Toledo or Cleveland. Take the retirement home and turn that into a casino. Increase police patrols... more importantly increase the size of the jail. That way when people commit crime they go to jail and and not let out for overcrowding, that will help downtown. Add a restuarant with a rooftop seating over the water, be great all seasons except winter. Add a minor league baseball stadium over past Lyman... Get rid of Surf's up or sell it to a developer to do something with it. Concert venue maybe. Clean up the streets and get out of the way

sandusky2012

I would let the cops sleep in their cars downtown!!!!

Darkhorse

I would like to know how the group of commissioners coming in will move city hall on the taxpayer's dime. Watch for an income tax increase.

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