"It's a new day in Cuyahoga Falls."
Mayor Don Walters shared this thought at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Falls Better Block along the Front Street pedestrian mall Aug. 26, and we hope that the two-day event represents the beginning of a new and improved downtown.
Taking place Aug. 26 and 27 on Front Street between Portage Trail and Stow Avenue, Better Block gave residents, businesses and visitors a vision of the area's potential if city and business leaders and community members invest their time, money and other resources into it.
The two-day event happening in late summer brought a sense of vibrancy and a feeling of good will to the area. Approximately 3,000 people visited the section of Front Street to sample food and drinks, visit with businesses that had either wiki stores or pop-ups, patronize a farmer's market, try out a fitness class or yoga class, take a kayaking trip or enjoy a dance or theater presentation.
The feedback about the event has been positive. Two businesses that participated in Better Block-- The Social Department and Crave Cantina -- are permanently setting up shop along Front Street.
Event organizers did a terrific job creating enthusiasm for this often overlooked area of Cuyahoga Falls, but now the harder work begins to make Front Street an ongoing destination rather than one just for Better Block or other weekend festivals.
The city is embarking on a project to re-open Front Street to vehicular traffic in an effort to spur economic development. A major part of this equation is the plan for a boutique hotel on Front Street near Portage Trail. The question that remains is, what else should this area offer so that thousands of people will visit and generate economic activity on a regular basis? We feel that the answer will come through the same type of collaborative effort that occurred among the city, the chamber of commerce, the Knight Foundation, Torch Bearers, and event organizers Getta Kutuchief and Samantha Coldwell in putting together Falls Better Block.
The energy and enthusiasm is there for a revitalized Front Street. Now is the time to convert those good vibrations into action.