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Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Businesses, customers satisfied with project

Main Street reopens in time for holiday shopping

By William Kincaid

Cars are seen in parallel parking spots in front of the post office Friday morni. . .

CELINA - The entire stretch of Main Street has reopened for the winter - and some downtown business owners are thrilled at the prospect of returning customers.
"Well, we're just glad it's open," Edna Slone of Floral & Friends at 102 S. Main St. said. "Business is a little bit better now."
Main Street from Fulton to Fayette streets remained closed from August until last Friday as Smith Paving & Excavating of Norwalk - contracted by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for $3.237 million - worked on the first phase of the reconstruction.
Though open to the public, the first phase will not be officially completed until new street light poles and traffic signals are installed, according to Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan.
He said he hopes the poles and traffic signals arrive this month. It will take a few weeks to install them, he said.
"I'm really impressed with it," Tony Birkmeyer of Wilson Shoe Store at 106 S. Main St., said. "We've had a lot of good comments so far."
Temporary parking spots and street lines have been painted. The permanent lines are to be sprayed this summer after a final inch of asphalt is applied. There is angled parking on two blocks from Market Street to Fayette Street and parallel parking on Main Street between Fulton and Livingston streets.
Bryan said the city initially was going to test having all parallel parking, but that idea was dismissed about a month ago due to opposition from some business owners at a Celina Merchants Association (CMA) meeting.
"There was a handful of people, really three or four, who were very opposed to doing that," he said.
The new angled parking is easier for drivers.
"They are different. I have only heard a handful of comments and at least so far, people like them," Bryan said about the parking spots that are at a 30-degree angle instead of the former 45.
Lester Huelskamp pulled into an angled parking spot on Main Street on Thursday afternoon to shop at Dollar General.
"I like it this way," he said, explaining it's easier to back his car out of the new parking spots.
He said he much prefers angled parking to parallel parking.
Julie Rhodes of Wilson Shoe Store said she has heard some comments about people having better visibility when backing out of the spots.
"There are fewer spots per block, but they are easier (to get out of)," Bryan said.
Kim Nation, owner of The Potter House on Main Street, said she was optimistic about the first phase of reconstruction but said it ended up being more difficult than she imagined.
"I think it looks wonderful," she said. "Five minutes after it opened, customers were storming in."
Business has definitely increased since the street reopened, she said.
"It was extremely slow (during construction) - it was a very difficult time for me," she said.
Slone, who works at Floral & Friends - a business owned by her sister, Judy Hiday - agreed business is increasing.
Floral & Friends has a side door on Market Street that was used by its customers as well as others looking to circumvent some of the construction, she said.
Birkmeyer of Wilson Shoe Store said business has remained steady throughout the project.
"It's been about the same - we weren't hurt too bad by the construction," he said.
According to Bryan, the alley between Dollar General and The Potter House, 108 S. Main St., has been closed and transformed into a pedestrian alley, allowing for three to four more additional parking spots along Main Street.
People can park in the lots behind the businesses and walk to the stores through the alley, he said.
Smith Paving & Excavating will return in March and begin the second phase, from Fayette Street to Lake Shore Drive.
"They did a nice job for us," Bryan said, adding that everything seems to be on budget. "Right now, there are no big changes that we've had to the contract."
The first phase of reconstruction included removing asphalt and the original bricks under Main Street and reconstructing it. New curbs and sidewalks were installed from Fulton Street to Fayette Street, as well as underground conduits for electric lines to new decorative street lights and traffic lights.
Waterlines on Main Street were replaced. Also, numerous alleys in a four-block triangular area south of Logan Street and west of Main Street and several alleys in downtown Celina - on either side of Main Street from Logan to Fulton streets - were repaved.
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