[EDITOR'S NOTE — This story has been updated to correct the location of Red Gate Farm. It is at the corner of South Palmyra Road and Leffingwell Road.]
CANFIELD — Residents on Wednesday got a first look at how the city could change for the long-term.
After months of work on a comprehensive plan that would inform future development in the city, city officials unveiled some of the plan’s key proposals to its steering committee members during an evening presentation at Canfield Public Library.
Residents got to vote on the concepts they feel the plan should prioritize. The final draft is expected to be delivered to city council in March. Once finalized, officials will follow the plan to make decisions on future growth.
“We are trying to plan for the future. This is about a 10- to 20-year timeline,” said Erin Moriarty, project manager for MS Consultants, which was hired by the city last year to develop the plan.
The firm’s Wednesday presentation considered several different planning themes: housing; land use; and parks and recreation. Also highlighted were specific projects on The Village Green and the corridor which could promote future development.
Resident Pat Sculli said he prioritizes creating a more walkable city as well as the creation of a multi-use bike trail through the city.
“We’ve got two young kids. … In the evenings, in nice weather, you want to be able to get out and do stuff. Our neighborhood has a lot of sidewalks but it’s pretty contained,” he said. “Being able to at least have a nice path to the downtown area, I think, is really important.”
One proposal Robert Faix didn’t agree with was a plan to cut traffic near the U.S. Route 224 intersection down to one-way.
“Personally, I oppose that. I think it would not materially benefit the city. Quite honestly, I don’t know what problem it would solve,” he said. “I just hope we have continued, open discussion about this and more opportunity for the community to voice our opinions for and against.”
Moriarty said one traffic lane would open up more space for protected bike lanes and sidewalks.
“The general objective here is to build up the Village Green as more of a downtown center, the ‘heart’ of Canfield, so adding opportunities for more restaurants and more shops and offices and urban living options.”
Of the residents who were polled last year in an earlier phase of the comprehensive plan development, 90 percent said they wanted to see more restaurants and shops on the Green. Less than one-third of respondents said they visit the Green at least once a week; a little more than one-third said it was more like a few times a year.
“I was and continue to be most interested in how the plan addresses Red Gate Farm,” Joe LoCicero said. “Red Gate was a huge investment and considered an asset.”
Last year, the city annexed the 280-acre property at the corner of South Palmyra Road and Leffingwell Road from the township, intending to develop it.
Though LoCicero said he believed the evening’s input-gathering format was “effective,” he was disheartened that there were few millennials. As a result, he said the attendees who participated didn’t properly Canfield’s demographics.
Sculli, 38, appeared to be one of the youngest people in the room.
“A lot of the ideas I feel are valuable — some of the older residents don’t think are valuable,” he said.
Canfield Township officials are currently finalizing their own comprehensive plan. It’s expected to be completed in April, said Traci DeCapua, township zoning inspector.
Residents got to vote on what parts of the plan they’d like to see prioritized. Here are some of the clear vote-winners for each category polled, including the development strategies that would be used to achieve them, taken from MS Consultants’ presentation:
THE VILLAGE GREEN
Promote development of underutilized properties
"Vacant or underused properties can project a negative image of the Green and deter private investment. They also represent unrealized potential to enhance the amenities available in the district. Strategies include property acquisition, targeted infill redevelopment, a facade improvement program and incentive financing (TIF, SID, etc.)"
Preserve and promote Canfield's historic character
"The Village Green features a distinct historic charm and architecture. Historic sites are anchors within the community and serve as reminders of Canfield's long and prosperous history. Strategies to preserve this character include historic design guidelines, inventory of historical assets and promotion of historic tax credits."
Promote walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods
"National real estate and development trends show a growing desire, across generations, to live in walkable communities. Convenient, multi-modal access to work, retail and other amenities is vital in supporting the livability of Canfield. Strategies include zoning code updates to promote a range of housing styles, sizes and price points."
Collaborate on school facility planning
"High-quality educational services are integral to Canfield's identity and the plan considers the school district a partner in enhancing the well-being of the community at-large. Local land-use decisions should consider current and future needs of the school district. Strategies include land swaps, rezoning and facilities planning."
PARKS AND RECREATION
Construct a multi-use path loop through Canfield
"A dedicated bike/pedestrian route through Canfield would enhance cyclist access and strengthen regional connections. The proposed loop includes sharrows [shared-lane markings] on neighborhood streets, a protected bike lane in the Village Green and a multi-use path on portions of U.S. Route 224, State Route 46, U.S. Route 62 and through Fair Park to the Mill Creek MetroParks Bikeway."
To get updates on the comprehensive plan and view planning materials, steering committee presentations and the draft plan, once completed, visit CanfieldCompPlan.com.