Having spent her first year as mayor assembling a new administration team, Chris Schmenk said she will focus on planning for Marysville's future in 2009.

Having spent her first year as mayor assembling a new administration team, Chris Schmenk said she will focus on planning for Marysville's future in 2009.

Schmenk said her second year as mayor will be spent largely on strategic planning to ensure the city is prepared for continued growth in the future.

Schmenk said filling the key positions of director of administration, public service director and city engineer were her first order of business when she took office last Jan. 1.

"I really thought the city needed to step up a notch, to move forward when it came to proactive planning," she said. "I think the city was doing really well when it came to day-to-day services like trash collection and water and sewer services, but I thought that to be ready for the growth that is coming our way and to satisfy some of our newer residents who have moved here from other cities, we needed to become more forward thinking."

To meet that challenge, Schmenk selected Jillian Froment to serve as director of administration, John "Mitch" Mitchell as public service director and Valerie Klingman as city engineer.

With those appointments made, Schmenk said she is ready to turn her attention to strategic planning.

"We have already kicked off two out of the three plans that we want to work on for the next year," she said.

The first plan, for safety services, is to deal with issues related to police, fire and municipal court operations. For police, Schmenk said the problem is a lack of space at the current police department headquarters. A similar problem exists with the municipal court and growth has created the need for a second fire station, likely to be located somewhere on the north side of the city.

"We have been doing internal planning, but the process will be open for lots of public input within the next year," Schmenk said.

Schmenk's administration team also has begun preliminary work on revising the city's 10-year-old comprehensive plan.

"It's primarily about land use," she said. "To fully participate in the U.S. 33 Accord, we need to complete our end of the spectrum. Dublin, at one end of the corridor, has a great comprehensive plan. Jerome Township just completed one. Mill Creek Township is in the process, so we need to take care of our end. Our last comprehensive plan was done in 1999 and it was just embedded in part of the county plan. We need to make sure ours blends in with the work that has been done on the 33 accord."

After the first of the year, Schmenk said she plans to kick off a planning process to maintain and improve the city's parks system.

"We have done a great job taking care of things in the short term," Schmenk said. "We have had a short-term focus. We look at the budget each year and see what projects we can do. Where I would like to see us go is look at where we want to go in five years. We need to back up and plan according to what that end goal should look like."

Schmenk said that plan would likely include bike paths and sidewalks that would connect the city's parks, and a review of other needs such as walking paths and soccer fields.

"Our community is really welcoming and attractive to residents, but if they have moved here from other upscale communities, they are used to well developed parks systems. I want to try to make sure ours are competing well with those others."

Schmenk said she considers relationships built with adjacent jurisdictions to be among her biggest accomplishments of 2008.

"We feel like we have really forged strong relationships with the county commissioners, the township trustees and our city council," she said. "That was ground work that was laid in 2008 that will serve us well in 2009."

Overall, Schmenk said her first year in office has been a pleasant surprise.

"I've enjoyed this immensely," she said. "This has been a pleasant surprise for me. It has been better than I expected. It has been less worry, less stress and a lot more fun than I anticipated."

jdonahue@thisweeknews.com