Achieving city status, personnel transitions marked 2012
It has been a busy year in Canal Winchester.
The city has completed nearly all of its transition from being a village, survived major storms in June and July, cleared the air of skunks, successfully completed several development and infrastructure projects, and said goodbye to Finance Director Nanisa Osborn.
Osborn said she's proud of the work she's done and expects the transition to a new treasurer, Amanda Jackson, to go smoothly.
"The overall financial condition is better now than at any past point in my career here," she said. "We were very tight when I started and for those first few years, 'no' was my favorite word.
"We're extremely conservative and continue to be, and that's what helped us through those challenging years. I expect 2012 will end with our highest year of revenue collection from income taxes -- based on what numbers I have right now."
Jackson will replace the retiring Osborn beginning Dec. 17.
"Amanda is a Canal Winchester resident and is currently employed by the state of Ohio as an audit manager," Mayor Michael Ebert said. "She's going to know finance and be good for us, but we're going to miss the 30 years of Nanisa's experience."
The city continues to finalize its transition from being a village. Osborn said there are still some changes related to that which will occur over the next year, but she believes the current city administration will continue to be successful in the transition.
"The city transition was probably as smooth as it could've been because we did a lot of advance work for it," Osborn said.
According to Planning and Zoning Administrator Andrew Dutton, zoning and code updates made over the past year made processes more straightforward for property owners to make changes or redevelop in the city and in the Cooperative Economic Development Agreement (CEDA) area, in conjunction with Violet Township.
"I'd say our major accomplishments this year were setting the CEDA standards, implementing commercial development standards that make it easier for businesses to develop here. We rezoned properties downtown and updated the Old Town guidelines," Dutton said. "The updates to the standards and making it more clear will make it easier to submit and easier for us to review."
Ebert said putting those mechanisms in place for business development has been very important.
"I think the site certification of Canal Pointe -- well, that's huge. There's only a couple in the entire state, so we've gotten a major hurdle out of the way for companies that choose to open shop there," Ebert said.
The city has added several new businesses over the past year, including retail shops downtown such as Handworks on High, Dragonfly Gift and Candle, the C'est Si Bon Cafe and Paradise FroYo restaurants and the move of manufacturer Manifold & Phalor from Reynoldsburg.
In addition, there was a groundbreaking for a major expansion at TS Trim.
"The TS Trim expansion is a big deal," Dutton said. "They're adding 85,000 square feet to their operation, which will bring a lot of new jobs here."
Although there were many development successes over the past year, the repurposing of the old Davis Paint site at 45 E. Waterloo St. wasn't one of them.
A legal battle over the property between potential buyer Patrick Shea and current owner The Guernsey Bank prevented investors, led by Bob McDorman, from purchasing the property to redevelop it as museum space for McDorman's car collection and the Ed Jeffers Barber Museum.
On Dec. 8, the buildings were destroyed in a fire that required assistance from multiple fire departments. Madison Township Fire Capt. Drew Pruden said the blaze was still under investigation, with help from the State Fire Marshal's Office.
The city's unwelcome skunk population caused residents to raise a stink about city officials' perceived inaction on the issue, due to concerns about private property rights and responsibilities.
However, by fall, city officials voted to allow residents to use a contract Public Services Director Matt Peoples set in place with Varment Guard, which called for the city and residents to share the expense of trapping the unwanted skunks.
The Public Works department had some significant 2012 success in regard to other projects, particularly Gender Road, which saw the successful implementation of two phased-in sets of improvements, Peoples said.
"Gender Road Phase 2 has been our biggest active construction project this year, and even though we had several people suggest there was no way we'd get it done in our time frame, we have," Peoples said. "We had a very good contractor and Bill Sims' oversight along with Nanisa watching the finances, this has been really a good project."
New fuel technologies had their place in Canal Winchester's 2012 history, as well.
Walgreens on Gender Road installed a recharging station for electric vehicles, prompting city officials to update the zoning code in preparation for more electric vehicle charging stations in the future. Waste Management also installed its first compressed natural gas filling station in Ohio, at its West Walnut Street facility, to fuel its new CNG-fueled fleet.
And as 2012 comes to a close, city officials are looking forward to 2013 where they are preparing for some large infrastructure projects and a continued uptick in economic activity.
"We've gotten very good at meshing our planning and our financial outlooks," Osborn said. "Our businesses are once again hiring temp staff, which is a real good indicator that things are beginning to move again."