Downtown Wadsworth prepares for renovation

BY KYLEE BARANEK

Plans for renovating downtown Wadsworth have sparked both fear and excitement in the community. Multiple concerns have been expressed about the seventy-five page plan that describes ways of beautifying downtown to make it more appealing.

The part of the plan that is causing the most concern is the possible moving of the gazebo, which is currently located in the center of town. While there are no concrete plans, moving the gazebo to an area with a more family-friendly atmosphere seems to be the general consensus of those surveyed.

Supporters think that an area with more green space would be the best option for moving the gazebo, as a spot with extra space would be beneficial for the groups that perform at the gazebo. This would also create a welcoming atmosphere and help attract younger groups of people.

Downtown Wadsworth has had a gazebo since the mid-1800s, and the idea of moving it to a different location is not appealing to many of the citizens of Wadsworth. These citizens being the local business owners and workers that are located around the gazebo.

The President of the Board of Main Street, Daniel Slife, said, “I speak on behalf of Main Street Wadsworth. They’ve adopted a framework that is a loose plan and guideline. So, the adoption of that plan, though versions of  that show the gazebo moving, it’s not the only way.”

Wadsworth Gazebo
The gazebo in downtown Wadsworth has been a focal point for decades, but new plans for downtown may bring a new location or even a new gazebo to the city. Photo by Kylee Baranek

According to the Wadsworth Economic Director, Harry Stark, “The whole small component of the gazebo and the green space in the downtown will be talked about, but that’s a long term plan. When we meet in May, we are really going to be looking at more of the small term plans that are happening this year. Part of this plan is going to include the people of Wadsworth by forming an implementation committee consisting of people both for and against the moving of the gazebo.”

The good news is that Stark said that the taxes will not be raised, and that the annual budget will handle all of the expenses that the renovations will cost.

As there is no set plan, the directors are focusing on some of the short term plans they will be able to accomplish this summer. For example, one of their short term plans is to put Edison lights in the alleyway between Bicksler Electric and the Sub Station.

Other plans to beautify Wadsworth are already in motion. The city has put in new benches and trash cans to make the city more alluring.

The gazebo moving is not the only long term renovations and plans that are in the discussion process. There is also talk about a branding campaign. “One of the things we don’t have is a brand – Who is the city of Wadsworth?” Stark addressed.

Currently, Stark and others are negotiating with consultants about a brand for the city of Wadsworth and for the downtown to try to get more people into the area. Another long term plan is a streetscape plan. This plan includes ideas of expanding the streets and creating a plan for more business parking spaces.

One of the main reasons that Stark and others think we need renovations is the idea of getting an “anchor” into the downtown.

This “anchor” is a business that could be a shopping center, grocery store, restaurant or even a park.

It is something that is meant to bring more people of all ages to downtown Wadsworth and want to spend time in the area. The “anchor” is the whole reason downtown is being renovated. This, the committee hopes, coupled with the brand, will put Wadsworth on the map.