A person driving west on Monroe Street passes a “gateway” at the intersection of Monroe Street and Alexis Road announcing his entrance into Sylvania. Other communities do the same thing.
During her campaign for a city council seat, Sandy Bihn said she would seek a similar gateway for Oregon, as well as seek ways to enhance the business district.
Now that she has been elected and returned to council, Bihn has organized an open committee to discuss themes and grants for these projects.
“We’re starting with the idea of how to improve the appearance and the feel of people traveling down Route 2. One of the first places that we looked at was I-280 and the southbound ramp, and we’re looking at now at the possibility of having some type of what they call a gateway as you get off the ramp. There is a grant that is available to put in some landscaping and stone. We obviously have to work with the city to make sure that it is all done right,” Bihn said.
Attending committee meetings are local business owners, including Alan Miller, Dennis Pavley, and Karen Magnone, sales manager for Comfort Inns. Bihn also has seen representatives from Dunn Chevy-Old, the Eagle’s Nest restaurant, and other local businesses.
“The big issue is I-280,” Bihn said. “When you get off of I-280 there is no signage that lists any of the restaurants or the hotels, so we’re trying to figure out where to put them because with the new bridge, the spaces are limited. So we’ve been having a lot of discussion with the state department of transportation and (Oregon Economic Development Foundation director) Gary Thompson has been helpful with the economic development group.”
Bihn said Oregon city engineer Paul Roman is providing input, and city employee Rodney Schultz has gone out and provided research on signage. She said the Ohio Department of Transportation has been cooperative in supplying information.
The group has been meeting at the Oregon Branch Library on Dustin, and Bihn says anyone interested should contact her.
“It’s open. It’s a collaborative effort. We’ve had regular citizens come in, which is great. In fact, some of those citizens have had great ideas. We were getting suggestions putting signs back further, so we were struggling with what to do with the signs,” Bihn said.
“It’s been publicized, and we hope to get a better e-mail list. All anyone has to do is let me know and I’ll add them to the list and let them know when the meetings are.”
One of the ideas being discussed for enhancing Navarre includes a nautical theme.
“The next part is to establish a landscaping theme along Route 2,” Bihn continued. “The rest would to have nautical landscaping and write to the businesses and say there is nothing mandatory in this, this is all voluntary.”
Besides grant funding the committee is looking at, Bihn hopes to get businesses behind the effort. In addition, in many communities garden clubs and other civic organizations get involved with public flower arrangements and other projects.
“We’re also looking at suggesting to businesses putting in spring landscaping, maybe determining a color of flowers. If they are doing it, maybe they would like to say this is what we would like to see. So, it’s kind of the spirit of it.
“The purpose of it is to try and get businesses kind of excited about their location and to enhance their businesses, and obviously to get more business ultimately and for the community to feel good about its name, because Route 2 is the main corridor of the city as well as Dustin—that whole corridor.”
“Oregon on the Bay” advertises itself as the Gateway to the Lake Erie islands for Southwest Michigan and Northwest Ohio, and as a Lake Erie Circle Tour Community. The city is the site of Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. Bay State Park.
Oregon, Lucas County’s largest suburb with 28 ½ square miles and a population of 20,000, has approximately five miles of shoreline along Lake Erie. The lake is known for its walleye and perch fishing, and Cedar Point amusement park, Put-in-Bay, and the Lake Erie islands are 45 minutes from Oregon.
In addition to council, Bihn is the president of the Toledo Lighthouse Society, an all volunteer organization that works on restoration and lighthouse promotion. She also is the executive director of the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association which works on the waters and fish of Western Lake Erie.
“So, we’re looking at anything from what we call nautical landscaping, which are the grasses, the stones, the ropes, whatever, to the possibility of flowers, lots of baskets, lots of poles. In addition to that, lighting issues to see if we can do better with the lighting,” Bihn said.
“It makes it more attractive, it makes it more appealing for everyone to be there. The other thing we would like to enhance is there is the old trodden statement, ‘Let’s get more restaurants in here, the Target, Kohls, whatever,’ and what we were told in a study a couple years ago was that Route 2 was just blah. It different offer any kind of appeal, any kind of a theme, it didn’t really have any character. I think the word is ‘character’ — maybe adding some character sill sit better.”
The committee is also discussing more ideas for the holiday seasons, just as lighting along Navarre and Dustin.
“In the long term, we can do several things, like businesses displaying flags for the fourth of July, or Christmas lights during the holiday season, or other kind of theme signs — getting some new banners along the road. Those kinds of simple, relatively inexpensive things, and some of the businesses may be helping as well,” Bihn said.
Eventually, the committee will take its finding back to the city to see how other council members and city leaders feel about it.
“These are all works in progress and we’re just getting off the ground. Our next step will be some members of the group will meet with the city and we’ll see what the city thinks about it, and then we’ll wait for other members of council and kind of share where this is going. Then, we’ll see what we do this year in the short term,“ Bihn said.