Restaurant, theater and apartments planned for Oak Harbor waterf - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Restaurant, theater and apartments planned for Oak Harbor waterfront

Thousands turn out for Oak Harbor July 4 celebration each year. Thousands turn out for Oak Harbor July 4 celebration each year.
OAK HARBOR, OH (Toledo News Now) -

An Oak Harbor committee is working to bring eateries, apartments and entertainment to the Portage River waterfront.

Members of the Oak Harbor Downtown Revitalization Implementation Committee are behind a recently built 60-foot dock, making the river more accessible to the public. Officials say the dock is only the first step.

"We want to put in walkways, lighting and landscaping, and hopefully an amphitheater," said Kelly Rivera, of the Downtown Revitalization Committee.

Committee members have mapped out a plan to eventually include a waterfront restaurant with apartments over it. They're hoping to fund the project through local sponsors.

The idea of revitalizing the riverfront is exciting for Fred Conley, who served as mayor of Oak Harbor for five years.

"We kind of turned our back on the river, and it's really nice to see some people realize that we have a river here and it can enhance downtown," said Conley.

After several years in local government, Conley says he knows how difficult it can be to lure new businesses and tourists to the area.

"I think in order to get good investors to invest in a small town like Oak Harbor, you have to have traffic," said Conley.

The waterfront was once a thriving, industrial area. A rubber plant and basket factory once stood along the waterfront, which now sits idle most of the year.

Getting both foot and water traffic isn't hard over the holidays. Thousands of visitors frequent the village on July 4 for its annual fireworks display.

Revitalization Committee members say they hope to duplicate the high turn-out over the holidays by adding the new attractions.

"This is one of the most heavily traveled highways, over the Veteran's Memorial Bridge (Route 19) and 163. If we had a riverfront restaurant, a steak and seafood restaurant, there's no doubt that we would be able to keep that restaurant busy," said Rivera.

No deadline has been set for completing the revitalization project. Committee members say the plan will continue to grow and adjust depending on the economy and the needs of the community.

The new dock is open to the public.

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