Project aims to beautify major Hermitage city corridor - Sharonherald


HERMITAGE — City officials have a project planned that could beautify parts of state Route 18 while preparing for the nearby Hermitage town center project.

The City Center Corridor Beautification Project calls for replacing the wide, concrete medians along state Route 18 with plantings, mulch, boulders and other features that will look more aesthetically pleasing.

Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson said the first phase of this project will affect the medians from the Shenango Valley Freeway to the Hickory Global Methodist Church, just north of the Shenango Valley Mall property.

“This is a stretch of Route 18 where we have multiple wide medians, but in the future we may look at expanding this project to elsewhere in the city,” Hinkson said.

Smaller medians, such as those at the lighted intersection near Wendy’s and McDonald’s, will remain as they are.

Hermitage Assistant City Manager Gary Gulla said city officials are working on the engineering for the project with IAG Consulting, and that most of the plantings will be perennial species that can survive the winter with minimal maintenance.

However, smaller plantings such as flowers may be addedf every spring to add some color diversity to the medians, Gulla said.

Hermitage Director of Facilities Neil Hosick will take the lead arranging the plantings for the project. Hosick previously handled the plantings for the roundabout at the intersection of East State Street and the Shenango Valley Freeway, Hinkson said.

“This would have a similar style to what you see in the roundabout,” Hinkson said.

Since the project involves state Route 18, a Highway Occupancy Permit must be secured from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Depending on how soon the permit is issued, the project could be completed by the fall, Hinkson said.

Information on the project was presented during the Hermitage commissioners meeting Thursday evening, where the commissioners responded positively to the proposal.

A motion to apply for the Highway Occupancy Permit will appear on the agenda for the board’s next meeting Wednesday.

The beautification project will be part of the overall effort by city officials to create a mixed-use town center, which would be developed around the Shenango Valley Mall property.

The concept of a town center was one of the major recommendations of the Hermitage 2030 Comprehensive Plan, a guide for future development in the city.

Hinkson said the city remains in contact with Butterfli Holdings LLC, the mall property’s owner, which is expected to demolish the mall later this year to make way for future development on the property. The last stores in the mall closed permanently about three weeks ago.

Although the developer has not yet revealed exact plans for the property, Hinkson said projects such as the City Center Corridor Beautification Project allow city officials to begin work along the town center’s periphery in the meantime.

This particular project also meets another recommendation by the comprehensive plan — beautification, Gulla said.

“Beautification was a big recommendation in the comp plan, so this project helps us pursue that along one of our main roads,” Gulla said.

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