2008 year in review.
City Council members who were elected or returned to office in November were sworn in during a ceremony on Jan. 3, after which committee assignments were decided upon.
Those taking the oath were Ward 4 Councilwoman Maria C. Klemack-McGraw, who was returned to office in November without opposition; Gregory N. Grinch, representing Ward 2; and Councilman-at-Large Michael Uhrin.
Ward 1 representative Ted A. Berry was elected council president. Klemack-McGraw was appointed head of the service committee. For the safety committee, Berry tapped Ward 2 Councilman Larry Corbin. The committee responsible for issues relating to residential, commercial and even recreational development, lands and zoning, went to Grinch. Uhrin was the choice as chairman of the finance committee.
Richard L. "Ike" Stage, who was returned once again to the mayor's office by Grove City voters in November, began his latest term by seeking to rein in the city's legal expenses, which were around $475,000 in 2007. He chose to do so by placing the Columbus law firm of Schottenstein, Zox and Dunn on an annual retainer.
"I'd be surprised if we don't save at least $100,000 during 2008," Stage said at the time.
Stage and City Administrator Sharon L. Reichard also announced the appointment of Michael J. Wasylik to fill a dual role as deputy city administrator, a position created at Stage's urging by council in early December, and safety director. Wasylik worked for the city of Westerville for more than 30 years starting in 1974. He was public service director from 1977 to 1985 and then assistant city manager until retiring in January 2007.
Also starting out with the title of assistant but expected to become a director was Mike Turner within the Finance Department. Turner spent the last eight and a half years as accounting manager for Reynoldsburg. Following a transition period, he took the job of finance director previously held by Howard Whitney.
Council members also voted to issue special assessment notes in an amount not to exceed $9,530,240 in anticipation of the issuance of bonds to pay for the widening, reconstruction and improvements to state Route 665 between North Meadows Drive and Hoover Road. It was an effort to take advantage of more favorable lending rates and it supplanted the one approved in March 2007.
A public meeting to update residents on development of an updated Town Center plan, which had been scheduled for Feb. 12 but was canceled by a snowstorm, was held Feb. 21. Architect Frank L. Elmer and Mayor Stage, who were on hand the last time the downtown got a makeover, resumed their roles and told about 90 people who braved another bout of bad weather that things were coming along nicely.
Ohio Department of Transportation District 6 officials met with council members, city administrators and executives with such heavy users of the Interstate 71/Interstate 270 corridor as SWACO and FedEx at City Hall to provide an update on a study which mainly focused on traffic woes along I-270 at the interchange with U.S. 23 but also included consideration of improvements as far south as Stringtown Road and I-71.
Dr. Michael Wine, a local dentist, was installed as president of the Grove City Area Community Improvement Corp. The nearly 20-year-old not-for-profit entity is charged with helping economic development in the city. At what was described as a "rebooting" meeting, Mayor Stage was voted in as vice president, Development Director Chuck Boso remained secretary and new Finance Director Mike Turner will serve as treasurer. Other appointments to the board, which grew to 15 members, included Tina Badurina, outgoing president of the chamber; first-year chamber member Jeff Compton; former Grove City Planning Commission members Karen Evans and Julie Oyster; City Council members Ted A. Berry and Michael Uhrin; and Hugh Garside, treasurer for South-Western City Schools.
At their first meeting of the month, council members took up the thorny issue of how to avoid possible serious injuries to youngsters whose parents have erected temporary backboards in the public right-of-way. Parks and Recreation Department director Kim Conrad told council members that she had been mapping the location of portable hoops in the street as well as all backboards at public locations, whether it's a city park or school facility. There were many of the former -- 17 in one neighborhood, Hennigan's Grove, alone, according to Stage -- and only 19 of the latter. Restrictions do exist to prohibit children from playing in the street, Police Chief G. Joseph Wise said, but he and his officers are reluctant to enforce them against children.
Council members voted to spend $603,000 as the city's share of funding improvements to the intersection of White and McDowell roads. Jackson Township and the Franklin County Engineer's Office also joined in paying for the project.
After six years of business downtown, Josiah's Restaurant closed its doors May 12.
A representative of the South-Western City School District Facilities Master Plan Steering Committee recommended to school board members May 12 that they adopt a facilities master plan for 2008 with an estimated price tag of $421- to $441-million. The steering committee plan involves adding 13 new elementary schools, maintaining intermediate grade configurations, replacing four middle schools and rebuilding Franklin Heights High School.
The 26th annual Grove City Alumni Softball Tournament was something of a blast from the past. For the event, thanks to two council votes, it was to be back to a closed-down Broadway for the Annual Homecoming Celebration on July 25, and back to beer sales on the streets of Town Center that evening as well as during the games July 26 and 27 at Fryer Park. These were to be tightly controlled and closely observed beer sales, with proceeds from the game-venue taps going to the Grove City Sertoma Club and the Homecoming pouring benefiting the Grove City Kids Association. City Council members waived enforcement of the open-container law for specifically fenced-in sections of Fryer Park on both those days between the hours of 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. and for sharply defined sections of Broadway and Park Street on July 25 between the hours of 6 and 11 p.m.
SWCS Board of Education members unanimously approved a 6-mill operating levy combined with a bond issue to keep a positive cash balance through 2010 and pay the district's half of an overhaul to school facilities. The final price tag on the renovations and additions to school facilities comes to $438,659,109. The Ohio School Facilities Commission would cover 47 percent, or $205,852,170, while the district will pay $232,806,939. According to the resolution, money for the facilities would come from selling $261,806,939 in district bonds.
Council members gave a first reading to a proposal to purchase 10.47 acres from Ward 3 representative Larry Corbin and his wife, K. Susan Corbin. The land, which is to be used to create a new entrance to Windsor Park, was appraised at $450,000 but the Corbins were willing to settle for $380,000. The purchase was approved at the July 21 council session.
The 26th annual Grove City High School Alumni Softball Tournament, July 26 and 27, took place on 14 fields at three different sites, marking the Silver Anniversary of the event, according to founder and director Steve Carr. To commemorate the anniversary, Carr announced the creation of a Hall of Fame. In addition, Carr said, the tournament was dedicated to the memory of Kristi Jo Wright. The two-time Most Valuable Player for the Class of 1976 team, who was part of 12 tournament championships, died in Chandler, Ariz., on April 29 from kidney cancer.
At a special meeting in the E.L. Evans Senior Center, residents were given updates on both the Town Center plan and development of the lumberyard site behind City Hall. Developer Mo Dioun told about 70 people that his project jettisons all residential components, includes only about 25 percent of the space set aside for retail and has as its anchor not a store but a relocated and greatly expanded Grove City Library.
The mystery surrounding white dots dotting sidewalks throughout the city was explained at a council meeting by Public Service Director Hughes, who said the marks were part of an advance evaluation of conditions leading up to an eventual sidewalk repair and replacement effort, primarily at the expense of property owners. Hughes indicated that he expected to prepare an ordinance for council approval that would not only include sidewalk repairs but also a grant program to help homeowners pay for the work.
Deputy City Administrator and Public Safety Director Wasylik reported that an informal check of Grove City streets where warning letters had been issued by Police Chief G. Joseph Wise found that in most instances, safety concerns were winning out over jump shots: Street hoops were coming down.
Marilyn Gibboney, longtime head of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society, was named grand marshal of the Grove City Community Labor Day Parade.
Power to most of Grove City was wiped out on Sept. 14 by 75-mile-an-hour gusts that blew through central Ohio as the remnants of Hurricane Ike. City residents were advised to drag storm debris to the curb.
The 29th annual Arts in the Alley celebration, featuring more than 100 juried artist and crafts booths, took place in Town Center Sept. 20-21. Free musical entertainment and an expanded variety of food offerings were also on tap for the Chamber-sponsored event.
American Legion Paschall Post 164 officials announced they had succeeded, in relatively little time, in raising the $6,435 to erect a polished black granite monument, three feet by four feet, at the Grove City Cemetery to be the focal point of Memorial Day and Veterans Day gatherings.
Little Theatre Off Broadway celebrated a 50th anniversary, making it one of central Ohio's oldest troupes.
Issues surrounding a potential sand and gravel mining operation on Jackson Pike north of Stringtown Road were given new attention last week when Columbus City Council members tabled a request by the company to have the city annex the site.
Voters rejected Issue 81, South-Western City Schools' combined bond issue and operating levy, at the polls. The eventual margin was 58 percent against the dual measure, 42 percent in favor.
Former Mayor Cheryl L. Grossman won handily in her bid for the 23rh District Ohio House seat, besting Democrat opponent, Keith Goldhardt, the chairman of the Pleasant Township board of trustees.
South-Western City School Board of Education members agreed not to pursue a second chance in February at the recently rejected levy and bond issue. However, they held out the possibility of another try in May.
Stonehenge Co. president Dioun provided council members with yet another update on lumberyard redevelopment plan, saying that moving the Grove City Library to one of the new three-story buildings proposed along Park Street isn't a deal-breaker if it falls through. Mayor Stage countered that it pretty much is. After Dioun and two representatives from the Bird Houk Collaborative offered their plans for using the vacant portions of the 3.25-acre site that includes City Hall, Stage offered his own plan. It includes the city's purchase of the existing library, to be converted into a community center, and adding as many as 60 townhouse residential units around the perimeter of the new center. Moving the library to the one of the structures Stonehenge would build is a key component of the whole concept, according to the mayor.
Mayor Stage announced that he is trying to persuade officials with the Grove City Area Visitors and Convention Bureau, Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Franklin Historical Society and Town Center Merchants Association to come together under one roof, the roof of the former Huntington Bank building at 3378 Park St.
Trustees for the Southwest Public Libraries voted to break off talks geared toward moving the Grove City branch to the lumberyard site. However, the mayor and council members are hoping to entice them back to the table. The trustees, at their regular meeting, rejected a motion to move from the talking stage to contract negotiations involving relocation of the Grove City Library to the proposed development behind City Hall. The vote was five trustees against and only two for the proposal.
"The primary reasons given by board members who voted no were Ohio's deteriorating economy and the fact that most board members are uncomfortable with the condominium concept of Grove City's proposal," according to Southwest Public Libraries Director Mark M. Shaw.