Delaware News

'Historic' Sawmill Parkway extension gets city's OK

Delaware will put up $8.46 million to stretch thoroughfare from Hyatts Road into city; county to pony up remainder


The city of Delaware and Delaware County have come to terms on a deal to fund a $56 million project to extend Sawmill Parkway into the city.

Delaware City Council voted unanimously Monday, July 28, to approve an agreement that would set the city's share of the extension's cost at an estimated $8.46 million.

Delaware County commissioners approved the deal in June.

Councilman Andrew Brush, who helped negotiate the terms of the deal, thanked county officials for their work on the agreement over the past several years.

"This is definitely a historic moment," he said.

The long-discussed project will extend Sawmill Parkway north from its current terminus at Hyatts Road in Liberty Township past Bunty Station Road toward the city of Delaware. Shortly after crossing the city line, the extension will curve northwest before ending at South Section Line Road northwest of U.S. Route 42.

The county hopes to complete right-of-way acquisition for the project by mid-December, then start construction in the spring.

Under the agreement, the city would pay for 100 percent of the cost of the project northwest of U.S. Route 42 and 37.5 percent of the cost between the city's southern limits and Route 42.

The county has agreed to pay for 100 percent of the project south of city limits and 62.5 percent of the project within city limits. The county expects to use a mix of existing funds and proceeds from the sale of bonds to pay for its portion of the project.

City and county officials have said the project will create a new, major north-south route in the county while opening large swaths of rural land to industrial development.

Officials said the cost-sharing agreement had been the sticking point during years of discussions between the county and city.

In May 2013, the city offered to pay for 25 percent of the project within city limits. The county responded with a 50-50 split on costs within Delaware.

In January, the city and county agreed to a memorandum of understanding that proposed the split finally approved by council last week.

City Manager Tom Homan said the agreement is the result of years of work by city and county officials.

"This is a milestone for the city," he said. "This is a project that has been really in the making for decades and it represents a major improvement in our transportation system."

According to the deal, the city will propose setting up one or more tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts, near the extension to help pay for the project.

In a TIF district, property-tax revenue derived from improvements on a development site are placed in a fund that is used to pay for public infrastructure improvements.

Homan said he has been meeting with officials in the Delaware and Olentangy school districts to discuss the creation of the TIF districts, which has not been finalized.