The city is approaching the finish line when it comes to the implementation of a connectivity plan, Mayor Edward H. Kraus said last week.

Segments of Solon Connects, a community improvement project that would provide walkability and connectivity, is set to begin this year.

“We are getting close to the finish line,” Mayor Kraus said.

City officials recently met with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, which is finalizing focus groups before rolling out the implementation of the connect plan.

Mayor Kraus explained that there will be a whole series of focus groups throughout this month and early March. Those groups are comprised of community organizations throughout the city, whose input was also tapped last year.

Following that will be a town hall, a date of which has not yet been determined, to roll out the short-term plan for 2021.

“2021 would not be what I would call broad, expansive reconstruction projects” associated with Solon Connects, the mayor said. Instead, they would be smaller projects such as the installation of bike racks in the area of Heritage Coffee on Station Street as well as near the Mitchell’s Ice Cream and Panera Bread shops on Kruse Drive.

“We will have a short-term plan in 2021,” Mayor Kraus noted.

That would also include the expandability of bike access near Chick-fil-A and Yours Truly around Kruse Drive as well as Wendy’s on Aurora Road. A potential redevelopment of the former Liberty Ford site could also be an area for walkability, he added.

A five-year plan will also be developed, which encompasses large-scale road projects planned for 2022 including the Aurora Road widening, of which Solon Connects would be incorporated, as well as the potential reconstruction of Harper Road.

“For 2021, we will focus on smaller things involving the central retail area,” including Bicentennial park near the Solon Historical Society and Bull Home on Bainbridge Road.

Mayor Kraus said there are no official costs yet for this work. “We won’t be spending a lot of money in 2021,” he said. “We will look for smaller ticket projects within the central retail district that we can do effectively.”

The City of Solon applied for the county’s Community Master Plan Grant program for this project and was awarded $60,000.

Mayor Kraus said the large reconstruction projects are coming and are important in the area of connectivity. The future includes the installation of such things as multi-purpose, paved paths, similar to what was built several years ago as part of the Pettibone Road reconstruction.

The overall Solon Connects initiative is very close to his heart, the mayor noted.

“There are so many aspects to it,” he said. “It’s quality of life.”

An avid runner, Mayor Kraus said he loves seeing people of all ages outside exercising and being with friends and family.

“Health and wellness definitely rose to center stage in 2020, and we all have to continue to try to live healthy lives.”

Mayor Kraus said the connectivity plan is also an economic development tool.

“Companies want to locate in healthy communities and want people to access trails,” he said. “It all fits into corporate wellbeing and corporate wellness and it drives our economic base.

“What’s good for our health is also good for our economy,” Mayor Kraus said.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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