Delaware officials last week reviewed the city's progress over the past year and looked ahead to its goals for 2013.
At City Council's meeting Monday, Feb. 25, City Manager Tom Homan said the city made economic strides in 2012, and added the positive trend looks to continue this year.
Homan highlighted economic growth in Delaware, particularly along the downtown corridor, during his annual year in review.
He said occupancy is up, stores are displaying fewer lease signs and new businesses are moving into the second floors of existing buildings.
"I think downtown is more vibrant than it's been in years," Homan said.
A general upturn in the market is largely to thank, he said.
The initiation of the first Downtown Facade Improvement Program provided $150,000 in loans to improve storefronts and help revitalize the downtown area, Homan said.
Another noteworthy development from 2012 was the start of construction for Delaware Place, a new senior housing project for low-income seniors being built at 351 S. Sandusky St., the former site of the Delaware Hotel.
Homan said it could spur other development in the area.
"It's an exciting and potentially award-winning project from a development standpoint," he said.
Homan also highlighted the creation of a business retention and expansion task force in 2012 consisting of 40 community volunteers, CEOs and public officials. That group continues to work in 2013, he said.
Also in 2012, Delaware received a federal grant to construct a bike path along Houk Road.
"That's going to make a huge difference in connecting the YMCA with developments north of the city," Homan said.
An infrastructure improvement achieved in 2012 was the design and construction of an extension to Glenn Parkway. The road now extends from the Braumiller Woods subdivision to U.S. Route 23.
Parks were improved in 2012, including the construction of a 100-space parking lot and the pavement of an adjacent pedestrian path at Smith Park
Overall, Smith, Mingo, Stratford Woods and Kensington Parks saw $3 million in improvements.
The city also began an overhaul of its water treatment plant, to be completed this year. More than $30 million in upgrades were started in 2012 to improve efficiency and water quality to meet new regulations.
Technological improvements achieved in 2012 include the extension of the city's fiber-optics network to Fire Station 301 and the airport.
Smaller developments include the implementation of an online property database, as well as an online income-tax filing system. In 2012, 731 Delaware taxpayers filed electronically, Homan said.
Also at its Feb. 25 meeting, council approved plans to issue long-term bonds totaling $8.5 million and to reissue outstanding notes totaling $12.7 million to fund continued work on the Glenn Parkway extension, including paving, grading and the installation of sewer, lighting and draining utilities.
Council also approved plans to sell an old garbage truck and an ambulance.