Parking, tourism highlight Town Hall

A wide range of issues were discussed during the first town hall meeting coordinated by new Warren Mayor Maurice Cashman.

The two-hour event was held on Wednesday in the Slater Room at the Warren Public Library.

“We want your input,” said Cashman to the 15 to 20 people in attendance, which included members of city administration. “If you have questions we can answer, we will. The city has a very tight budget and probably will for the rest of its legal life, but it doesn’t mean we can’t look at improvements and doing things here.”

Main Street President Dan Ristau spoke about the importance of stimulating retail business in the downtown area. “I think what is so necessary in this town (is to) get going in one direction… find one goal and work on it.”

“We want to encourage people to open stores downtown,” said Cashman.

Part of encouraging that development is providing ample parking in the downtown area.

Cashman provided an update on a committee established in the past few months to bring a comprehensive parking plan to Warren City Council for consideration.

“I commissioned them for 90 days,” he said. “We’re moving along with it. Having a parking problem and going about solving it is good news, and it’s a good problem to be looking at. I will caveat this. (I have) never seen a parking solution that has satisfied everyone.

“We’re working through it,” he added. “We have to do something to get our parking revenue up. We’ll wait until April or so to start unveiling this to the public. This is not something we are going to keep for ourselves and just roll it out. We want input from a variety of constituencies, even the people that come downtown.”

Tourism was another area discussed at length during the session.

Referencing the entrances to Warren, Rt. 59, US 6 and Rt. 62, Andy Moore said people “don’t really know what you’re coming to or what Warren has to offer. People are going to miss out on some of that stuff.”

“One thing that would be a nice suggestion (would be) brochures of a walking tour downtown… we need to make (brochures) accessible someplace,” said Cashman.

“We have a lot of attractive natural beauty and there are a lot of people that come through this town. We have to start thinking further about what we can do to get them to stop,” he added.

“You do it by consistent events,” said Wally Post.

“What we got to do is figure out the tourism puzzle,” said Cashman. “One of the things that… we have not capitalized on is the river that runs through this county. We talk about downtown and I talk about Warren. Wherever a business is, I want those people engaged and involved.

“In my view, we need a ‘Welcome to Warren’ (sign) on all of our entrances,” he added.

Cashman said another town hall meeting will likely be held in two to three months to provide updates on the items discussed on Wednesday and potentially seek out volunteers for new initiatives.

To those in attendance, “your presence shows a deep interest,” he said.