Avon Growth News, 8-25-04 to 10-6-04

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9-22-04: First Economic Summit a success

9-30-04: There's still time to make history

10-2-04: Clinic system plans Avon site

10-6-04: Traffic study conclusion

``NEWS ARTICLE from the Morning Journal, 9-8-04, by the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's traffic problems are getting worse ... in the 85 biggest U.S. cities, snarled traffic is costing travelers 3.5 billion hours a year, up from 700 million two decades ago, according to the Texas Transportation Institute's annual Urban Mobility Report released yesterday ...

Using data from 1982 to 2002, the Texas Transportation Institute, part of Texas A&M University, measured just how much worse it is getting.

The average urban commuter was stuck in traffic 46 hours a year in 2002, a 187 percent increase over the 16 hours lost in 1982 ...

The report is based on data from the states and the Transportation Department.

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NEWS ARTICLE from the Plain Dealer, 9-25-04, By Molly Kavanaugh, Plain Dealer Reporter

``Trolley lovers say to Lorain: Hop on!

LORAIN -- A trolley buff and a local historian have joined forces to try to bring trolley service back to Lorain

"I'm calling this show the beginning," trolley enthusiast Dennis Lamont told guests after a slide show Friday at a meeting of Mainstreet Lorain.

He and historian Albert Doane are proposing electric trolleys for downtown, which would be the only service of its kind in Ohio, Lamont said ...

The first phase of the line would be about 1 mile long and travel along Black River Lane to the port authority's waterfront park, east of Broadway ...''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: mkavanaugh@plaind.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 9-2-04, By MARY DAVIES, Staff Writer

``Center provides donors regular site to give blood

AVON -- Ron Gasler doesn't care that he'll never know who receives his donated blood. Thinking he could someday be in need of someone else's donated blood is enough to make him happy to extend his forearm.

Gasler, of Avon, gave a pint of his blood Saturday morning at the American Red Cross' new donor center at 2210 Center Road in Avon. It wasn't his first time donating blood, and it won't be his last, he said ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 9-8-04, By Julie A. Short

``Scout troop adopts highway, finds interesting array of trash

AVON -- Boy Scouts and community service projects go hand-in-hand. Boy Scout Troop 333, made up of boys from Avon and Avon Lake, recently completed a community service project, whereby they adopted a section of Chester Road through Lorain County's Solid Waste Management department.

The boys cleaned a section of Chester Road from SR 83 to Nagel Road. Primary concentration was the area in and around Wal-Mart. The troop is the first group in Avon to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program. Avon Streets Superintendent Bill Biro is working with the county to have a sign placed on Chester Road denoting the roadway has been adopted by the troop ...''

For more information, call 329-5632.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 9-8-04, By Julie A. Short

``Celebration planned as library celebrates 10-year anniversary

AVON -- ... the Harvest Drive building is celebrating 10 years of serving Avon residents.

Longtime Avon residents may remember the first library service in the community was a bookmobile stop provided by the Lorain Public Library System. The mobile location served the needs of the city for a while until the Friends of the Avon Library worked with the Lorain County Public Library System administration to help raise money to renovate the Old Town Hall (corner of Detroit and SR 611) building for use as a library. The new Avon Branch Library opened in the building in 1956. During that time, the library was only open three days a week for a total of 20 hours. The branch closed each day for an hour lunch or dinner break.

Even back then, Avon was a growing community and eventually the Old Town Hall location became too small to hold the library's collection and perform all the library's activities. In 1962, another day was added to the library's hours brining the total for the week to 26 hours. Soon the Friends of the Avon Library and the county library administration began to look for another new site. The library was moved from the Old Town Hall to the plaza behind Pappo's Pizza on Detroit Road. The renovation and move took three years and in 1968 the "new" library opened. The new location served the residents of Avon for 10 years until it too, became cramped.

In 1983, the county library system rented space from Vasu Communications on Ridgeland Drive for a larger library. The 3,800-sq.-ft. location was remodeled to serve as a library.

In 1991, a community group was formed to begin searching for a permanent branch location. The citizen's committee and the Lorain Public Library System administration chose property on Harvest Drive as its new location because of its central site in Avon as the site to build the new library.

The grand opening of the 10,400-sq.-ft. Harvest Drive building was on June 13, 1994. The branch is now open seven-days a week during the school year and provides a total of 59 hours a week of library services for the community. Also included within the library are additional rooms for library programs and community group meetings ...

Since opening the building in 1994, the branch continues to grow. Visits to the library have almost doubled with over 99,600 separate visits to the branch compared to approximately 59,900 visiting 10 years ago. More than 163,500 items have been borrowed, nearly doubling the items borrowed in 1994. The number of people using the meeting rooms has increased from 1,041 uses in 1994, to over 2,900 ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 9-22-04, By Julie A. Short

``First Economic Summit a success, business owners offer ideas

AVON -- Small business owners and city officials came together Sept. 14 [2004] to discuss ways in which they could work to improve communication and brainstorm possible avenues to increase awareness and profits.

Councilwoman-at-Large JoAnne Easterday spearheaded the meeting ...

The reoccurring theme for the 20-plus in attendance was signage. Many businesses owners within the French Creek District feel the "sign police" constantly patrol them.

"We had poles we had to take down for our sign and now the sign is on top of our storefront," Sue Boucher, owner of Sue Beez (37321 Detroit Road) said. "When I drive down the street, I notice signs through my peripheral vision. People pass my store up because they can't see my sign from the road. If I'm going to stay in business, I have to be able to attract people's attention. If you put up balloons, you get a letter from the sign cop. Most people don't know there is anything past SR 611."

Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza explained to the owners that the city drafted a new planning and zoning code in 2001 that addressed new provisions for signs. Businesses were given a five-year period to conform. By 2006, all signs must be in compliance. Ground signs can be a maximum of six-feet tall or 32-sq. ft.

Tree House Gallery owner and Olde Avon Village (36840 Detroit Road) Developer, Ron Larson, was unaware his current sign for the Village will have to eventually be replaced. He stressed how important communication is with the city.

"Maybe the city should consider a point person people can go to with questions," he said. "I want to know how the city feels now about the French Creek District, especially buildings such as the Old Town Hall and Avon Isle. There [should be] a Heritage Loan program ... If the city is going to eventually adopt and enforce a property maintenance code, it would be nice to have some alternative."

According to Piazza, the French Creek District was created in 1988. A vision for the streetscape was created, as well as a very specific code that is reviewed by consulting architect Paul Burik.

Carpets Direct (37340 French Creek Road) owner Craig Witherspoon echoed similar sentiments regarding the need for a point person within the city. He also noted that Avon is an "extremely difficult" place to open a business.

"Someone should be welcoming new businesses into town," Witherspoon said. "Maybe if there was a packet created with information such as signs and dumpsters there wouldn't be any surprises later. As a new business owner, you don't need surprises."

Piazza explained to the business owners that he is the city's "point person" and he talks to as many as 10 new businesses a week explaining to them what they need to do in order to open up shop in Avon ...

French Creek Fiber Arts (36840 Detroit Road) owner and resident of the French Creek Association, Peggy Strang, came prepared with a list of concerns and suggestions, including a loan program.

"Some cities around us have a provision for low interest loans so that businesses can renovate or maintain their property," she said. "The city should also look into if Detroit Road could be designated as an [Ohio] Scenic Byway. We also need more use of public facilities such as municipal parking. We tell people where not to park, but don't tell them where to park. Also use of the restrooms at the Little Fields should be considered."

"We (French Creek Association) hold our meetings in each other's spaces. A new senior center is going up. Would it be possible to meet in a place like this? We were also told that we could not hang banners in town, yet the Duct Tape Festival had a banner. This is inconsistent." ...

The eventual widening of Detroit Road was also a topic of discussion as many business owners wanted to know a time-line for the project.

"We will begin the widening project on Detroit Road in 2006," Mayor Jim Smith said. "The road will be widened to three lanes, offering a center turn lane which should alleviate some of the traffic backups. There is enough room in front of buildings to accommodate for the widening. Nothing will be lost in the process."

Details gift shop (36840 Detroit Road) owner Lori Miles suggested that the city sponsor more community events.

"Maybe if there was a liaison to the businesses," she said. "At the Duct Tape Festival the high school didn't even have the band. The city should have been on that." ...

Boucher expressed her displeasure that the city does a good job directing traffic to Avon Commons with signs posted at SR 83 and Detroit Roads, but no signs are posted directing traffic to the west side of town.

"We need something to alert people that there is a neat little world if they turn the other way," she said. "That's still Avon, and it's dying." ...

Most in attendance were grateful for the opportunity to address the city and plans are already underway to meet again after the holiday shopping season to evaluate the progress ...''

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FROM: JOANNE EASTERDAY, 9-14-04

``Judging from the enthusiasm, responsiveness, openness and spirit of cooperation among those participating at the economic summit, we can look forward to progress within the small business community. There is definite interest by the council, administration and merchants.

Within the below list there are specific things that can be done before our next meeting to be scheduled in January. I look forward to making the summit not merely talk but to have action to further the efforts to encourage success among small businesses.

ECONOMIC SUMMIT, 9-14-04

LIST OF STATEMENTS, CONCERNS, SUGGESTIONS

Communication regarding scheduling widening of Detroit Road

Designating Detroit Road as an Ohio Scenic Byway

Public facilities with SIGNS

Meeting space for organizations in city buildings

Signage/banners

Establishing a pamphlet/packet to get over new store opening "bumps"

Small, local businesses support the community with funding of sports, etc./ Do the citizens support those businesses?

City should act as a "sponsor" for special commercial events. Encourage church choirs, school band, etc. to lend support. Should be a liaison who will facilitate connecting among entities

Timing on grandfathered signs, 2006

Changing signs that have been grandfathered

New buildings all the same/old Avon architecture was more varied with colors and materials.

Heritage low interest loan program

Establish a communication system

Establish balance between new/old, residential, commercial/industrial

Discussion of French Creek District regarding streetscape, style, Western Reserve, roof lines, colors

Should have some freedom of creativity to move forward

Fine line between creativity and conformity

Difficult to open a business in Avon and complying with rules

Should have a "point person" to WELCOME new businesses rather than saying what you can't do

New business owners should know the rules ahead of time

Getting a sign permit is a multistep process. Since permits are required to be in hand while posting signs, the permit should be sent out after the application is complete.

Construction variances for historic buildings

Sign ordinance for group facilities should be revamped

Off site signage

Larger signs/attractions

Heritage Home Loan Program for historic homes for commercial purposes in the French Creek District

Banners/signs for special events to direct traffic WEST at SR 83/especially for fund raisers for community organizations and small, local merchants

Find a place to display ads

Create a feeling, highlight, a showcase in the French Creek District''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 9-30-04, By MARY DAVIES, Staff Writer

``There's still time to make history

AVON - There's still time to be a part of the city's national fame. Photographs for inclusion in a book on Avon's history will be accepted through Nov. 1, 2004.

The French Creek Development Association, with help from the Avon Historical Society, is organizing production of the book, expected to hit store shelves nationwide in the spring.

Organizers had hoped to make the book available during the upcoming holiday season, but they have extended the photo collection deadline to maximize everyone's opportunity to contribute photos.

"It's not this little collection, fly-by-night thing. This is a national publication that will be available across the United States," said Michelle Budzinski-Braunscheidel, a past president of the association and author of the book ...

So far, about 300 photographs depicting Avon and its culture from the mid 1800s to the present have been considered for the 250 spots available to appear in the book, which will be largely pictorial.

"This book is a historical-to-present perspective on Avon," said Carol Hartwig, head of the association.

Budzinski-Braunscheidel said members of a committee working on the project have enjoyed learning things they didn't know about Avon's history.

So far, the committee has recieved an excellent variety of photographs from current and former residents, she said.

For example, a woman who learned of the project several months ago contacted the committee saying the her 100-year-old grandmother is a former Avon resident who wanted to contribute photos from decades ago, Budzinski-Braunscheidel said.

"People ask about the tornado form 1924," she said, adding that photographs also revealed the existence of a former hotel and U.S. Post Office in the city years ago. Even modern things, like the city's skateboard park, will be included ...

Budzinski-Braunscheidel came up with the idea for the book while attending a conference in 2002. Among the vendors was Arcadia Publishing, which produces "high-quality" books on local and regional history throughout the United States, according to the company's Web site.

The book will be part of Arcadia's "Images of America," a collection of more than 2,000 books - one for each participating community - that tell history written through photographs and written narratives. Numerous Ohio cities have a book, including Lakewood and Rocky River.

Thousands of the Avon books, priced at $19.99 each, will be available nationally at Barnes and Noble and Borders Books and Music bookstores, and locally at Avon area businesses and through the French Creek Development Association and the Avon Historical Society.

The association and the society will recieve a percentage of the book's profits.

Anyone interested in submitting photos for consideration can contact Budzinski-Braunscheidel at P.O. Box 111, Avon, OH 44011 or through e-mail at nursebeebee@aol.com.

Copies of photos are preferred, but originals can be scanned into a computer and returned.''

NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 10-13-04, By Julie A. Short

``Still time to enter submission for historic pictorial book

AVON -- The new Avon is quite different from the old Avon, and they have the pictures to prove it.

A picture book with captions is currently being crafted depicting Avon past and present. The French Creek Association, along with the Avon Historical Society, is organizing production of the book that is expected to hit store shelves nationwide this spring.

Past-president of the association, Michelle Budzinski-Braunscheidel first heard about the possibilities of creating a book while attending a national preservation conference.

"In 2002, I was at a conference and one of the vendors there was Arcadia Publishing," Budzinski-Braunscheidel said. "They asked me what city I lived in and looked it up and said we don't have a book on Avon. I presented the information to the French Creek Association and the Historical Society and we all thought it would be a good idea to create a book."

Arcadia Publishing is a leading publisher of regional and local history in the United States. Its mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of high-quality books on the heritage of America's people and places. The Avon book will be part of its Images of America series. Since its inception in 1993, the Images of America series has preserved and shared the history of hundreds of individual communities throughout the country. Each title records a town or city's unique story through more than 200 historic images. The book will be titled "Images of Avon" and will retail for $19.99.

Other surrounding communities with books published through Arcadia include Lakewood and Rocky River. The books are available nationally at Barnes and Noble, Borders and Waldensbooks. The Avon book will also be available locally at Avon businesses through the French Creek Association and Avon Historical Society.

The Avon book will feature sepia-colored (black and white) images in of Avon from the mid 1800s-to present.

"There will be approximately 240 in the book," Budzinski-Braunscheidel said. "It will have 10 chapters that will be divided into sections including business, farming, schools, organizations and historical homes. We've received more than 300 photos thus far, but are looking for more."

Historical photos will capture much of the book, but images of the new Avon will also dot the pages.

"We have some pictures of the new skatepark and hope to include some pictures from the Duct Tape Festival," Budzinski-Braunscheidel said. "We have some photos from the outhouse races at the former Festival of Flowers, so it will be nice to compare the two festivals through photographs." ...

Budzinski-Braunscheidel had hoped to have the book available in time for the upcoming holiday shopping season, but unfortunately due to the volume of photos, that will not occur.

"We've extended the photo deadline to Nov. 1 to maximize everyone's opportunity to contribute photos," she said. "If anyone has a photo, we can scan it in and will return it right back."

Budzinski-Braunscheidel grew up in Michigan, but has lived in Avon for seven years. She is a registered nurse who writes for medical publications.

Anyone interested in submitting photos for consideration can contact Budzinski-Braunscheidel at P.O. Box 111, Avon 44011, attn: Michelle or e-mail nursebeebee@aol.com. ''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-2-04, by KATIE GALLAGHER, Morning Journal Writer

``Clinic system plans Avon site

AVON -- The Cleveland Clinic Health System will be an anchor in the Avon Pointe Professional Campus, which will have Kaiser Permanente as another anchor.

Fairview and Lakewood hospitals, which are members of the Cleveland Clinic Health System's Western Region, are planning to establish primary care and some diagnostic imaging capabilities on the site, according to a statement from the hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic is also exploring the possibility of using the space for primary care, according to the statement.

The 20-acre Avon Pointe Professional Campus is capable of building 185,000 square feet for professional offices, according to Bob Campana, managing member of Campana Development.

The Cleveland Clinic Health System will occupy an 18,400-square-foot building, and Kaiser Permanente will occupy a 15,000-square-foot building, according to information from Brady-Cam LLC, a joint venture between Brady Development from Avon and Campana Development of Lorain.

The medical facilities will be part of several buildings located on American Way, which is off of Chester Road, according to Shaun Brady, managing member of Brady Development.

A multi-tenant building will sit between Kaiser Permanente and the Cleveland Clinic Health System building, he said ...

Kaiser Permanente will move onto the site on Oct. 18, [2004] according to Brady, and the Cleveland Clinic Health System building is expected to open in the summer of 2005 ...

Campana said the project has been so successful thus far because of the high visibility of the project, which can be seen from I-90, the easy access in and out of the project, the competitive pricing and the high quality construction ...

Kaiser Permanente's building is now complete, the Cleveland Clinic Health System's building should be finished by next summer, and construction will begin on a third building this month, Campana said. There will eventually be eight buildings on the site, Brady said.

The Cleveland Clinic Health System hospital and Kaiser Permanente are both comfortable being in the same park together, Campana said.

Eileen Sheil, director of media relations for the Cleveland Clinic, explained that the project involves the western regional hospitals and will not change any of the Cleveland Clinic's operations. The Cleveland Clinic has explored and is continuing to explore opportunities for a health-care center in Avon, she said.

Kaiser Permanente medical facilities only serve Kaiser Permanente members, so it will not be in competition with the Cleveland Clinic Health System hospital, according to Pamela Jordan Handley, director of corporate communications for Kaiser Permanente ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 9-29-04, By Julie A. Short

``Traffic study conclusion lists SR 83 as the most congested

Over the past four weeks, The PRESS has set out to record and evaluate traffic patterns throughout our coverage area. We recorded the time and mileage during various points within of the day in attempt to see for ourselves if traffic was a bad as many in our readership area claim it to be.

The city of Avon is spending thousands of dollars on a study to look into the merits of constructing an interchange at I-90. Much of the traffic congestion we experienced throughout our study was concentrated off a number of I-90 exits.

There are two spots we found that were not easy to travel through, no matter what time of the day.

First, SR 83 near the Detroit Road intersection was extremely heavy during the evening rush hour and on the weekends. On Sept. 9 at 5:15 p.m., I drove 3.3 miles from a home in Avon Lake off Walker Road to Avon Commons via SR 83 and my time was 12.46 minutes. The congestion in and around the SR 83 exit of I-90 was out of control. Traffic was backed up in all lanes in all directions.

This same area proved to be no better on the weekend. On Sept. 18 at 4 p.m., the same trip as above took me 17:01 minutes. Most were heading to Avon Commons as evident by the backup on Detroit Road waiting to make the left turn into the shopping center's main entrance.

Columbus-based TranSystems, the company retained by the City of Avon to conduct a study on the proposed the I-90 interchange, has given the intersection a level of service grade of C during evening rush, which is surprising.

The proposed interchange could be constructed somewhere between the SR 83 exit and the Crocker Road exit in Westlake, or the study could show that no interchange is warranted. [ If the problem is Avon Commons traffic, how would a proposed intercahange alleviate this problem?]

The Crocker Road area in Westlake was another source of high traffic congestion in our study. Granted, much of the backup is due to the construction of Crocker Park that is slated to open Oct. 29 [2004], traffic will be no better once the stores and apartments are open.

A drive 5.5-mile drive from my home in Avon off Jaycox Road to the I-90 entrance ramp off Crocker Road took 15:13 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. Most east side residents of Avon do use the Crocker Road entrance rather than the SR 83 ramp.

The Crocker/Detroit road area in Westlake is so bad during the evening rush hour that it received an F grade for level of service from TranSystems. Traffic backups are in all directions with upwards of 500 feet of traffic backing on to Clemens Road in the opposite direction.

During my evening rush hour commute, I clocked my time from the Crocker exit, down Clemens to Bradley and then Detroit and finally home. It took 18:28 minutes to go 6.2 miles to my house.

It's too bad the folks at TranSystems didn't grade the Cobblestone shopping area in Sheffield for the interchange study. No matter when I traveled through, it was crazy.

On Sept. 2, I pretended to be a student from Avon attending Lorain County Community College with an afternoon class. I headed down Detroit Road, through the heart of Avon, to pickup lunch before class at the Sheffield Village Taco Bell. It took a total of 22 minutes to travel 8.6 miles to get to the campus.

Evening rush hour traffic was no better in the area. The exit ramp off I-90 was backed up all the way down to the interstate.

Some of the traffic congestion was a given. Is traffic bad during rush hour?...yes. Is traffic to and from Avon Commons bad on Saturdays?...yes. My unscientific study validated those points.

What I found the most interesting, and I'm sorry I had to pick on them, was the folks from Henkel Consumer Adhesives who complain that its difficult to get around Avon during their lunch hours.

First of all, if Henkel employees want to get to Avon Commons, it's pretty easy and only takes but a few minutes. They just have to head west on Just Imagine Drive to Jaycox and then use the short cut to the Commons at Middleton Drive.

For my lunch hour trip, I lived on the edge and actually drove all the way to SR 83 from Just Imagine Drive/Chester. I went to the dry cleaners at French Creek Square; picked up lunch at Subway and stopped at the National City Bank in the Commons is approximately 35 minutes. It is possible to run a few errands and pick-up lunch in an hour and be back to the office. I experienced no traffic congestion during my trip, and I left the Henkel lot at 11:50 a.m.

I received a letter from a Henkel employee implying that I must have conducted my research at 9:30 a.m. because he and his fellow co-workers do not go out to lunch anymore because the lines at the restaurants are too long. Well that has nothing to do with traffic. It's lunchtime; lines are going to be long. The key is not to go to at peak times such as 12:30 p.m.

Conclusion...Personally, I don't see what all the traffic congestion fuss is about. In Avon Lake, there was virtually no traffic back-ups. Especially now that the SR 83/Walker Road intersection construction project is complete. It was relatively easy to get through Avon Lake at all times of the day.

Avon has it problems on SR 83. The dogleg into Avon Lake is scheduled to be corrected next year, as traffic will be routed north to Pin Oak Parkway. That should alleviate some of the back up near Wal-Mart.

Since SR 83 runs through the center of town, many resident use the exit of I-90. As noted above, the back up over the bridge at any give time of the day is huge. Something also needs to be done to correct the traffic signal at Detroit Road. It's extremely long.

As for traffic on Detroit Road through the heart of Avon, the city has plans to widen the road in 2006. A left turn lane will be installed that should alleviate some of the backups, especially those needing to get to the tiny post office ...

What I learned from all of my driving around is there are key times of the day when traffic is bad. Basically, if you can avoid those areas, do it. That will cut down on the number of people traveling the roadways. As the communities in our coverage areas continue growing, roadway improvements are paramount. Whether an interchange is constructed in Avon or not, the city must work to improve its road infrastructure.''

[ At current Avon tax rates (less than Bay Village) residential development does not pay enough to cover its education cost, and certainly not enough to cover the cost of new lanes of pavement to carry all of us around town. So it's a good idea to think ahead about where the money is going to come from. The common pasture will only support so many sheep; beyond that, the grass dies for all of us. See vehicle access streets ]

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