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Residents discuss hopes for Franklin Street Corridor

Jackson Patterson points out painted stop triangles on Front Street as an option to consider in addition to bulb-outs and archways over crosswalks in the lower west side’s Franklin Street Corridor on Sunday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

With 14 west side residents in person, plus another 20 viewers online participating in a special meeting Sunday and poll open through Monday, additional concerns and clarity were reached by consensus in the basement of the Gilman United Methodist Church in Marietta.

In a description of hopes for the lower west side, respondents entered repeatedly the vision of children playing, vibrant and artistically decorated crosswalks to slow traffic and repeated concerns of sidewalks broken, unlevel or missing along the Franklin Street Corridor and elsewhere in the economically challenged neighborhood.

The meeting Sunday also fostered dialogue with residents who had watched the momentum of the neighborhood civic group growing.

“Now people, when they talk, know about Main Street West and know that it’s doing good things,” said Autumn Andrews, a resident who lives near Harmar Elementary School.

She shared that with the momentum, she and her husband had set a goal to stay on the west side and live.

Andy Arnold raises his hand as he talks about pedestrian and visibility concerns for motorists when driving in the lower west side of Marietta. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Similar sentiments were shared by older attendees, like retiree Linda Veraldo, who contributed consistently to the conversation as the group teased out types of road and pedestrian safety improvements they’d like to see cross the Muskingum River from examples in Marietta’s east side and in other larger cities across Ohio.

“This showed that lighting is also a bigger concern than what we had previously been told, or had been shared during past meetings,” said Fourth Ward Councilman Geoff Schenkel who spent much of the first hour of the neighborhood civic group’s meeting furiously scribbling notes in a composition book. “And it was so neat to hear about arches wanted and get to point to examples.”

The discussion offered residents a chance to dive deeper into specific options to address pedestrian safety and visibility concerns raised about the thoroughfare which Main Street West Chairman Jackson Patterson described in eight words.

“It literally cuts the west side in half,” he said of Franklin Street.

At the close of polling, residents both participating online and in-person ranked the following priorities and concerns from greatest (1) to least (5):

¯ Visibility when entering the street from side streets including Clinton, Lord and Pearl that have blind views.

¯ Pedestrian crossing safety for children and the elderly, due to speed or other vehicle traffic.

¯ Cleanliness and welcome into the neighborhood, including light, gardens and (the removal of) junk cars.

¯ Bus access for those wishing to use the Community Action Bus Line.

¯ Parking for residents and business customers.

Next, the residents — in partnership with the Washington County Health Department, and with support sought from the neighboring agency, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington County (on Lancaster Street at the end of Franklin); and additional neighboring businesses and educational organizations — are looking to pursue additional grant and community funding to add art installations, painted crosswalks and additional traffic calming measures over the next year.

While the discussion Sunday also touched on grant funding available through AARP, no vote was taken Sunday to apply for the Community Challenge grant with a deadline of April 1.

Main Street West is next scheduled to meet on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Gilman United Methodist Church, pending impacts of coronavirus restrictions. Masks are required inside the church.

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