SIDNEY — Downtown development strategies were discussed during the Sidney City Council’s Monday evening hybrid-style teleconference meeting.

Amy Breinich, Sidney Alive executive director, Jim Hill, executive director of the Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership (SSEP), along with Barry Alberts, of CityVisions Associates, provided a presentation on downtown development strategies. Alberts has been working with SSEP and Sidney Alive to help strategize the vision for downtown. CityVisions, of Louisville, Kentucky, is a downtown developer/consultant that has previous worked on the riverfront development strategy in Piqua, Dayton and Springfield.

Hill and Breinich gave an quick review for council members of goals and previous steps. Alberts then shared information on phase I plans for the downtown Sidney development strategic actions community partners are working on.

Alberts complimented Sidney’s authenticity, good bones and character downtown, which he said many cities desire for their downtowns.

The strategic actions Breinich included in their PowerPoint presentation, are:

• Improving downtown aesthetics;

• Activating the river;

• Reinforcing the identity and uniqueness of downtown Sidney;

• Strengthening connections to the river;

• Encouraging “third places;”

• Redeveloping vacant properties;

• Adding more food and drink establishments;

• Strengthening adjacent neighborhoods and their connections to downtown;

• Additional residential development;

• Engaging the community as active participants in the strategy.

Weaved throughout the PowerPoint, several photographs or drawings Breinich shared illustrating potential improvement ideas of ways to activate sidewalks in front of businesses, better utilize Piper Park, show the use of pedlets or parklets, add bike parking that also serves as street art and improved way-finding signage in the downtown. Others ideas depicted include food trucks, and twinkle lighting and open streets during scheduled times for restaurant or retail business events in certain areas downtown.

Breinich also spoke on ideas for the former Shelby County Jail located downtown at the corner of Main Avenue and Court Street, on infill housing potential, and the addition of bike lanes on roadways. The next step, she said, is to review and assign strategic actions to various stakeholders to move forward. The presentation included various actions for downtown or partnering businesses, residents and the city of Sidney to implement the development.

Mayor Mike Barhorst asked about the absence of the theatre in the plan and also riverfront strategies. Breinich told him The Historic Sidney Theatre has its own plan in progress for redevelopment and is not part of this particular downtown action plan. She also said the riverfront is still in the process of being worked on, and a presentation will be brought back in the future.

Visioning group member Mick Given, of Plum Ridge Trail, thanked City Manager Mark Cundiff for his input and guidance, and said the group will be return to council within the next 60 to 90 days when legislation changes or city funds may be necessary.

Breinich closed by briefly explaining Sidney Alive’s many typical planned events in the downtown have been negatively impacted due to the unknowns caused by the pandemic. They currently are focusing on smaller activities that could occur within the health order guidelines rather than large-scale community events.

By Sheryl Roadcap

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Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.