Upper Arlington officials expect top priorities for 2022 to be the construction of the city's first community center, as well as ongoing infrastructure improvements and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Since 80% of voters in last May's primary election supported the city's construction of a community center, city officials have been working to put plans in place to make the facility a reality.
The design of the estimated 95,300-square-foot facility at Kingsdale Shopping Center was nearing completion by the end of 2021, City Manager Steve Schoeny said.
"The big one (in 2022) really is the community center, making sure we get the design process done really well so that we're being wise with taxpayer dollars and delivering what the community wants and needs," Schoeny said. "Hopefully, we'll be kicking off construction in fall of next year.
"There's a lot of work to be done between now and then, but we're making really great progress."
The city intends to issue $55 million in bonds to fund the project's construction, and a private fundraising campaign is seeking to contribute at least $5.4 million. Officials also plan to raise revenue to support the facility be leasing a total of 50,000 square feet to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Although the community center will be at the forefront for the city, the $2.9 million reconstruction of Northwest Boulevard will continue, Schoeny said.
The project, which began July 6, 2021, includes the reconstruction of Northwest Boulevard, from Barrington Road to North Star Road and includes the reconstruction of the road's foundation, pavement resurfacing, the installation of new curbs and gutters, the construction of new drive approaches and improvements to the storm sewer system.
This spring, the city also expects to launch the rebuild Fishinger from Mountview Road to Tremont Road, Schoeny said.
The approximately $12.9 million project will include the reconstruction of Upper Arlington's busiest east-west arterial, and the installation of sidewalks, a bicycle or "shared-use path," new stormwater lines and energy-efficient street lighting.
According to the Engineering Division, the city's estimated share of the project is approximately $4.4 million. The balance of the project will be funded by about $8.4 million in federal transportation grants to be distributed by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and another $811,934 from the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to the division.
"Fishinger should kick off, hopefully, in April," Schoeny said. "That'll take all construction season because we're replacing water lines and doing some realignment of the street."
While not an infrastructure project, the city is planning a $1.3 million renovation to the space for the Upper Arlington Police Division at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.
"We'll be moving some of those (UAPD personnel) to a room downstairs," Schoeny said. "We're going to be moving the rest of them to the old (Upper Arlington Schools) Board of Education building (1950 N. Mallway Drive)."
Schoeny said the bulk of the UAPD personnel would move to the former district office building, but patrol officers likely would continue to work out of the MSC.
"I don't think that (UAPD) space has been redone in about 30 years," he said. "It doesn't work well for how we want our officers and investigators and administrative staff to be working.
"There's not enough meeting space, and we're also going to make some enhancements to the security of the building."
Schoeny said the city also will continue initiatives to bolster diversity, equity and inclusion.
The city's Community Relations Committee will be accepting applications in coming months to provide grants of $1,000 to $5,000 for community group programs that support DEI.
"We're going to be rolling out a small-grant program for community organizations that want to do a program that supports diversity, equity and inclusion in Upper Arlington and making Upper Arlington a more welcoming place," Schoeny said. "It's going to be a competitive process and hopefully get some great ideas from organizations around the community. We've budgeted $15,000 for it."
In addition to the city administration's priorities for 2022, Upper Arlington City Council President Brendan King said council is focused on the community center and the city's services.
"I believe council's priorities for 2022 will be to continue to provide the cost-effective, high-level services that our residents have grown to expect from the city, continue to be financially responsible as we improve our aging infrastructure and continue council's commitment to engage the community on every decision," he said. "We will be especially focused on hearing from residents on the design and construction of the community center.
"On the community center design and construction, we will continue to work to find residents where they are through workshops and open houses to learn and understand the amenities that the residents want in the building."
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Upper Arlington: Community center is 'the big one' among 2022 priorities