New was the operative word in Delaware this year, with new faces in city leadership, renewed vigor in development, and even a new firehouse to match the city's commitment to public safety.

New was the operative word in Delaware this year, with new faces in city leadership, renewed vigor in development, and even a new firehouse to match the city's commitment to public safety.

Meanwhile, in the village of Sunbury, the Town Square got a pair of major upgrades as two long-discussed projects came to fruition.

Here's a look back at the top stories of 2013 in Delaware and Sunbury.

Hello, goodbye

The November election led to some fond farewells and the introduction of some fresh faces on Delaware City Council.

Newcomers George Hellinger and Kent Shafer were elected to council Nov. 5, joining top vote-getter and incumbent Councilwoman Carolyn Riggle. The three serve as council's at-large representatives.

Hellinger, who finished in second place in the seven-candidate race, almost lost his chance to serve before the race began. The Delaware County Board of Elections invalidated the petitions he submitted Aug. 7 because they were not stapled together.

Hellinger, who referred to the controversy as "Staplegate," fought the decision. The board certified Hellinger for the ballot in early September after he collected all of the signatures on his petitions again and had them notarized.

While it gained new voices in 2013, council said goodbye to two longtime fixtures. Gary Milner and Windell Wheeler, the incumbent mayor and vice mayor, decided not to run for re-election.

Milner had served on the council since 2005 and had been mayor since 2009.

Wheeler had served on the council since 1997 and had been vice mayor since 2009. He served as mayor from 2002-09.

In the same election, Berkshire Township voters gave their blessing to developers seeking to build an outlet mall on 208 acres just west of Interstate 71's Delaware/Sunbury interchange.

The vote was a referendum on a zoning designation approved by the township's zoning commission and trustees earlier in 2013 that would allow the project, which had been proposed by Simon Property Group and Tanger Outlets. Residents who wanted to overturn the zoning designation could vote "no" at the polls, while a "yes" vote would keep the designation in place.

Residents voted to keep the zoning for the project, but not in overwhelming fashion. According to the county board of elections, 580 residents voted "yes" and 560 voted "no."

Proponents of the "yes" vote argued the property could be annexed by Columbus or Sunbury if township voters denied a chance for the mall to go forward, meaning any taxes collected wouldn't benefit the township. Residents who opposed the proposed mall said there was little evidence annexation was seriously being considered.

Building boom

The quickening pace of development in the city of Delaware in 2013 is perhaps best exemplified by the engineering department's request of additional funding in July to help keep up with new, unexpected business and residential projects.

New housing projects, including Traditions at Carson Farms, Communities at Glenross, Preserve at Quail Pass and Stavroff Residential, led to an increased demand for engineering services from the city.

Businesses that sought to build in the city in 2013 included Brown Jug Storage, CVS, Panera Bread and a Chesrown auto dealership.

The city transferred $175,000 to the engineering department from the general fund, earmarked for five building inspectors to be hired as contract workers from August to October, when city officials said construction on the majority of the new residential projects would begin. Bill Ferrigno, director of engineering services for the city, said the investment in his department would pay off almost immediately, because the city expected to collect more than $200,000 in service fees from developers.

City officials said the new developments were evidence that the housing market had recovered significantly since the recession.

Station 303 rises

When the Delaware Fire Department opened Station 303 in September, city officials saw it as a fulfillment of a promise made to voters three years earlier.

City residents approved a 0.3-percent increase to the city's income tax, raising the rate from 1.55 percent to 1.85 percent in 2010, to provide more funding for fire and emergency medical services. Officials had promised the tax hike would cut down on response times if approved.

The new funding, which almost doubled the amount of money the department receives from city income taxes, allowed the city to hire eight new firefighters in April.

The levy also allowed the city to open Station 303 at 1320 W. Central Ave. Fire Chief John Donahue said the location was selected because of its proximity to Grady Memorial Hospital and the increasing population of the surrounding area.

Metal matters

Residents of Sunbury saw improvements to the village in the forms of copper and bronze in 2013.

Sunbury Village Council members voted unanimously to replace the historic Town Hall's standing-seam metal roof with a copper roof at a cost of about $152,000. Work began on the project in mid-July.

Village officials said the copper roof has a life expectancy of 100 years -- twice the life expectancy of many galvanized steel roofs.

Officials said they were taking extra steps to prevent one possible drawback of using copper: theft.

Village Administrator Dave Martin said copper downspouts were fastened into the brick and extra materials were not left sitting out during the installation process. Mayor Tommy Hatfield said copper theft is not unheard of in the village, but he expected the three-story building's central location to deter would-be thieves.

On Sept. 28, the village dedicated a bronze statue of William Rosecrans, a major general in the Civil War and native of Kingston Township.

The dedication was the culmination of years of work by the Big Walnut Area Historical Society's Rosecrans Headquarters committee, which raised more than $190,000 for the effort.

The statue, which stands 13 feet tall, weighs 3,000 pounds and sits on a 54,000-pound boulder, which was moved to the Town Square in 2012 in preparation for the statue's installation.

Supporters of the project said Rosecrans was the highest-ranking Union general who did not have a bronze statue dedicated in his honor before the project was completed.

Route roadblock

City and county officials and homeowners continued to debate the future of a project to extend Sawmill Parkway from Hyatts Road to Bunty Station Road in 2013.

City of Delaware officials have said the project would allow for the expansion of the city's business park and relieve traffic congestion by offering another major north-south transportation route.

In May, city and county officials tried to determine how to divide the costs of the project, which had been estimated at $50 million. County officials balked at a split in which the city would pay 25 percent and the county would cover 75 percent of the costs, while City Council members were not sold on a 50-50 split. While the cost-sharing agreement has not been finalized, the county's engineering office continued design work on the project in 2013.

Some property owners in the area, including farmers whose properties would be split by the proposed road extension, have argued the county has not offered them fair value for the land required to complete the project.