Landscaping, improvements eyed for county-owned parking lot in downtown Ravenna

A car park owned by the county in Ravenna is to be improved so that more visitors are invited. However, the district officials want to make sure that they do not lose any parking spaces.

Bill Barber and David Dix recently reached out to the commissioners on behalf of the Downtown District Plan of Main Street Ravenna. Barber said they wanted to speak to commissioners about ideas for the property that has parking spaces for the Portage County courthouse, as commissioners recently discussed the need for improvements there.

Barber said Jason Kentner, a Ravenna-born landscape architect who works with Main Street Ravenna, had ideas for a number of locations in downtown Ravenna that could be made more welcoming by adding landscaping. The county-owned land behind the courthouse was one of them.

Additional trees and brick walkways, Barber said, would make the area more park-like, welcoming, and encourage downtown visitors to use the property outside of business hours when the county is not using the property.

“If you go to the park, it will be a more pleasant walk,” said Barber.

But the commissioners said they fear the drafts, which have 20 spaces less than the property now, could leave the courthouse close to parking. The car park now has 140 spaces. In addition to 90 county employees who use the property, jurors and potential jurors also park there.

The proposals of the Downtown District Plan provide for 100 to 120 places. The draft also provides for an alley to be cleared in the middle of the property.

Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett said the county has been discussing the possibility of adding a third judge to the Joint Pleas Tribunal.

“If we add this judge, we need every seat there,” she said.

Commissioners suggested that the additional spaces could be found by shrinking some of the landscaped area while still leaving enough space to make the property look inviting.

Barber and Dix said they would speak to engineers to see what changes could be made to find the additional rooms.

Dix said Main Street Ravenna hopes to start the project with some “low hanging fruit” by enhancing public spaces that were already earmarked for improvement.

“It’s easy to see,” he said. “It could have a big impact right away.”

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