Published at PO Box 96 124 W. St. Clair Romeo, MI 48065. Phone: (586)752-3524 Fax: (586)752-0548
Updated Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 3 PM EST
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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 06/27/12
Above, Romeo businesses have complained about the poor condition of a parking lot in the southeast quadrant of downtown.
(Observer photo by Chris Gray)
Business owners seek
help in improving Romeo
by CHRIS GRAYEntrepreneurs in downtown Romeo are looking for assistance from village government on making downtown better for patrons.
Observer Staff Writer
During the Village Board of Trustees' June 18 meeting, business owners approached the board with concerns and complaints regarding a lack of notable improvements in downtown Romeo.
Village officials, however, said there are plans in motion, but they will take time and money to solve.
Dimitri Bonnville, co-owner of Yorokobi Sushi, said the parking lot located behind his and other businesses in the southeast quadrant is in need of repair.
"I understand that some of the parts are privately owners, but the city seems to not communicate with them and do anything about it," he said.
He was also frustrated that a tree blocks his business' sign, and that his A-frame sign can only be placed in front of his establishment.
Bonnville said he wants to see Romeo grow, but claims he only sees plans being talked about but not being put into action.
"Businesses on the street are teaming up and joining forces to try and create a better community downtown, where I see the city hasn't really moved to doing anything," he said.
Greg Tarr of Tarr and Associates agreed the parking lot is in need of repair.
"I've been here since I was 2 years old and it hasn't changed much," he said.
Tarr also questioned what the village was doing to bring crosswalks to Main Street aside from those found at 32 Mile Road.
He said other communities like Birmingham have safe crosswalks, and wondered what it took to have them installed. He said he would even be willing to pay for crosswalks in front of his property.
"Hundreds of people cross there unsafely, so let's make it safe like other communities do," he said.
Ed Tomaszewski, owner of Shooter's Emporium, also had concerns with signage. He suggested the village's sign ordinance be re-examined, saying his current signage, along with a lack of parking, has caused little traffic for his store.
"I have people that walk by, live in Romeo, that say `you know, I drive by here every day and I didn't know you were there,'" he said.
He said he understands the village doesn't want the signage to get out of hand like other communities, but believes something should be done to give businesses more exposure.
"I like Romeo, I think you guys have a cool little town here, I'd hate to see you screw it up," he said.
They aren't the only people to desire change. A survey of residents and business owners conducted by Downtown Development Authority (DDA) member Jason Arnott shows 93 percent want beautification in the southeast quadrant, while 56 percent suggest more parking in the area.
With regard to the parking lot, Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said there have been several endeavors to speak with the property owners to improve it, but not all of them have agreed to it.
"We've attempted to do it two or three times, those plans have failed," she said.
Trustee Mike Cregar said repairing the parking lot has been a project on the minds of the board, but it'll take cooperation between the owners to make it happen.
"We just haven't been able to get everyone together," he said.
McLaughlin said the tree issue as well as the crosswalks are currently being processed. She said the village is waiting to hear word from Macomb County regarding the crosswalks since it is a county road.
"Those things have to go between the DDA and the Planning Commission for review," she said.
Village President Mike Lee said even without crosswalks, people cross Van Dyke and cause safety issues. He said if crosswalks are placed on Main Street, people may cross whenever they want, which could be hazardous.
"We're damned if we do, we're damned if we don't," he said.
Trustee Bob Hart said making downtown more walkable is important, but money and the right plans are needed.
"The DDA is the best way for that to go," he said. "Funds in the DDA, though, are nothing at this point."
Cregar also supported an effort to make downtown more pedestrian friendly, but said it'd be contingent on the county and state approving plans.
In terms of signage, McLaughlin reminded business owners that the sign ordinance, which was created with assistance from the DDA, state A-frame signs can only be placed in front of a business.