City Plans Infrastructure Projects

The Oberlin City government is working on two simultaneous plans designed to develop local infrastructure.

According to City Council member Michael McFarlin, one of these projects is a comprehensive plan addressing a variety of sectors including housing, economic development, and general infrastructure. The project will run until the end of 2023.

“If residents of Oberlin need something, ideally we would like to have a situation where they’re 100 percent coming downtown or staying in the City,” McFarlin said. “The reality is we all have to kind of go outside of Oberlin right now to get some things we need or want.”

The second project, run by a group called Downtown Strategies, is focused on a gradual revitalization of the downtown area over a five-year period. The project will advise the City on ways to make downtown Oberlin more accessible. This project is managed through a City board and commission, called the Oberlin Community Improvement Corporation. The OCIC is made up of several business owners in the town, along with City officials and residents. 

“They’re looking at all these data to kind of identify where the City, if they so choose, could put some effort into either recruiting businesses or improving downtown in certain ways,” McFarlin said. “From helping with facades on buildings through certain programs or through signage. Just wayfinding around the City so that people can find parking or they can find whatever they need.”

The projects are being completed in collaboration with one another, with the consultants for the comprehensive plan working with Downtown Strategies on a survey where people can give feedback on improvements that can be made within Oberlin. 

“We’re always looking for improvement,” McFarlin said. “We’re always looking to help out those businesses that are already here for sure.” 

The teams behind both projects are looking for input and communication from residents and business owners. 

“We definitely want public input,” McFarlin said. “All of these meetings are public meetings. Folks can go to the City website and look at recordings of ones they haven’t attended, they can look at what’s coming up, and attend the public meetings for sure. But in particular, that survey is live right now through the end of November.”

Henry Smith, owner of Doobie’s and The Arb, is excited about the development plans and appreciates collaborating with City leadership. 

“I have faith in the consulting plan,” Smith said. “There’s no really hidden agendas involved. Working with downtown administration, I’ve learned, is a valuable asset for the community because they are very resourceful and willing to help small business owners develop and grow.” 

Jerry Anderson, owner of Watson Hardware, commended the City’s work to help all members of the community.

“I think it’s heading in the right direction,” Anderson said. “I think they’re trying to help everybody, to help us.”