It's a great time to live in, or come visit, Cuyahoga Falls. Opening up Front Street to allow traffic has the potential to usher in a new era for the city.

It's long overdue for the outdoor pedestrian mall area to be removed and the area to be opened up. It's understandable that closing the street seemed like a good idea in the 1970s, when indoor shopping malls like Chapel Hill were at their apex and businesses and municipalities were looking for ways to compete, but in 2017 the playing field has changed. The foot traffic just doesn't support the businesses there. As successful projects like Portage Crossing or Hudson's First and Main have shown, easier accessibility and better visibility brings more businesses and more visitors. There's little doubt that this $13 million transformation of Front Street will result in the area becoming an even more popular hot spot. And the convenient proximity to Route 8 is a strategic key that could unlock even more interest.

"The rebirth of historic downtown" is a great way to describe this project. The plan, which includes maintaining well-known landmarks like the clocktower and keeping the room for concerts and festivals, shows a necessary understanding of the "flavor" of the Front Street area which residents have enjoyed for years, while also allowing for a more contemporary atmosphere.

The addition of two-way streets and on-street parking will be great selling points to help the area begin to thrive. We expect businesses will be banging on the city's door soon to locate in this area, and indeed some already are. The groundbreaking was just this past week, and the Chamber of Commerce reports that there have already been inquiries about available space.

"I've never been more excited by the turning of dirt," Mayor Don Walters said at the April 24 groundbreaking. His enthusiasm is shared by many. We commend the city of Cuyahoga Falls officials' efforts on this important and exciting project, and we're eager to watch the progress over the next several months.