Marysville Mayor John Gore says he can see 2014 from his new office.
"I can look out my window in about seven months and I can see the park, which if we don't do now, we'll never have the opportunity," he said.
The $1.16 million project, dubbed Marysville Partners Park, will be funded primarily through donors. Local business partners have pledged $725,000, including $525,000 from Memorial Hospital of Union County, which will finance the money over 15 years through a city-held bond. Honda Marysville and Union Rural Electric each will give $100,000.
With other potential partners in the pipeline, officials estimate the city's share will be about $400,000. The money would come from the general fund.
The park will include a kiosk to provide information about the park and community events; it also will recognize the park partners.
The 50-by-144-foot Memorial Hospital Pavilion will offer a sheltered area for community events such as farmers markets and Friday Nights Uptown. Honda Marysville will sponsor a splash pad where children can play in the water. Water jets will form the Honda Marysville logo. Union Rural Electric will sponsor a gazebo.
"The fact that our partners have stepped up has been fantastic," said Gore.
A sister-city garden will signify the Japanese cultural ties in the community and Marysville's sister-city relationship with Yorii, Japan. The park will include a library book drive-through and drop-off area.
"We are also looking for space for parking. We hear a lot of complaints about parking. We're listening. We need more strategically placed parking," Gore said.
Gore said when the park is built, it will offer more parking for the Uptown area. City officials originally said the project would include 70 parking spaces, then later dropped the number to 11. Now, the number has been revised again.
"It's been redrawn, and it looks like we might have about 38 to 40," Gore said. "We're going to do some traffic-pattern changes and some on-street parking by the park and possibly have a one-way going west on Sixth Street, but that's all in the planning stages."
The Town Run project is scheduled to be complete in the spring.
Town Run, a tributary in the Mill Creek watershed that flows through Marysville, is a conduit for stormwater runoff. Work has been completed on the section that runs between North Plum and North Walnut streets.
The project includes the restoration and stabilization of about 700 feet of eroding stream bank.
The $530,000-plus project is being funded by a $187,000 Clean Ohio Conservation Grant, a $323,000 Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 Grant and $28,000 in city funds.
"There's a vision for the Town Run to be kind of recreational, with a boardwalk and benches with greenery along there," Gore said.
Gore and other city officials also have their sights on another water-related project. He said a lot of time was spent in 2013 laying the groundwork for a partnership with the state to improve the new reservoir on Raymond Road.
"They (the state of Ohio) have been very cooperative with this plan," Gore said.
Plans including stocking the reservoir with fish and adding a dock, parking lot, bathrooms and boat ramps to make it a recreational reservoir. There already is a 2.1-mile gravel path around the top of the reservoir that people use as a walking trail.
Gore said the project could be completely funded by grants, but the city would have to allow motorized watercraft of at least 10 horsepower to qualify for the money.
City Administrator Terry Emery said the city will apply for grant funds that would be available in the first quarter of 2014.
The reservoir was built in 2008 with a capacity of 1.39 billion gallons of water. The city began using the reservoir as a drinking water source in fall 2009.
Gore also is proud of the new refuse-collection contract that took effect Jan. 1. The five-year contract with the current service provider, Republic Services Inc., runs through Dec. 31, 2018. Rates of $21 per month, $15 for seniors, did not increase.
Republic will use automated side-loading trucks to collect trash and recyclable materials. The process requires residents to use specific containers provided by Republic.
The "toters" are color-coded: green for garbage and blue for recycling. Both are 96-gallon containers, though residents can opt for smaller 65-gallon containers.
"I think it helps our community be cleaner and there was no increase in the rates, and in some cases we were able to reduce rates," Gore said. "Some of our customers rented the totes for $3.50 a month and now it's part of the service."
Gore said a new pedestrian bridge should be in place for students to use to walk to school when the 2014-15 school year begins.
The $1.6 million bridge mostly will be funded through Ohio Department of Transportation with a $1.3 million Transportation Enhancement Program grant. The city will pay the other $300,000.
Preliminary renderings of the span show a 12-foot-wide, 285-foot-long structure that resembles a covered bridge. The project starts with a walking trail off Amrine Mill Road on the south side of Marysville High School. The trail will run up to the pedestrian bridge over U.S. Route 33 and pick up again on the other side of the highway to connect with an existing bike trail running parallel to Route 33. The new portion of the bike trail will total about 1,700 feet.
"The plan has been to utilize it for next school year," said Emery.
'Grass is greener'
In November, voters approved a full-time law director position for the city effective Jan. 1. The four-year elected post is held by Tim Aslaner.
"The law director position is critical," Gore said. "We've grown to the point we need somebody 24/7. The law director's job is to keep the city out of trouble instead of getting us out of trouble."
Gore said the city also will continue to work on development and recruit businesses in the coming year.
"We intend to grow, but do it through planned growth," he said.
Gore said with all the projects in the works, he expects Uptown Marysville to be a destination.
"People will say, 'Let's go Uptown. Let's go to dinner. Let's take a walk in the Uptown area. Let's take a picnic basket to the park.' That's our goal," he said.
Gore said he wants those who grow up in Marysville to come back as adults and build their lives "where the grass is greener."
"Three of my four kids live here and both of my grandchildren do, and I want them to continue to want to live here," he said. "It's a good place to live, work and play."