New Albany News

Health facility is city's top 2013 project

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New Albany officials in 2013 are anticipating a great deal of construction in the Village Center, starting with a new community health facility on Johnstown Road.

Another union contract, some changes in personnel and improvements to High Street also are on the horizon.

"(In 2013) you're going to see a lot of construction in the Village Center," said New Albany Mayor Nancy Ferguson. "A lot of our residents wish the Village Center was more developed, but it's a challenge. A lot of people are interested in New Albany, and it's a great place to have a business, but they'd like it to be a little more populated."

Ferguson said more businesses could be attracted to the Village Center thanks to a partnership with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, which will lease space in a planned community health facility at the southwest corner of Village Hall and Johnstown roads.

The 48,000-square-foot health facility will be built by New Albany.

The Wexner Medical Center is expected to occupy 35,000 square feet -- or 70 percent -- of the facility for clinical outpatient and rehabilitation services and physician offices.

"The intention for this facility is to contribute to raising the health of the entire population, with a unique integration of health assessment, education, medical fitness and health care offerings," said Larry Lewellen, vice president of care coordination and health promotion for the Wexner Medical Center. "The facility is not intended to be limited to the physical location but will be connecting to the community to assist in the development of a community health ecosystem.

"This facility is also unique, as it will have the entire capability of the Ohio State University behind it, from our Wexner Medical Center to seven health science colleges and a broad array of academic experts from across the remainder of our colleges."

The first floor will include a fitness facility that would be managed by Integrated Wellness Partners, which formed from a partnership between Akron General Health Systems and Signet Development. Integrated Wellness Partners would be a subtenant to Ohio State, said City Manager Joseph Stefanov.

The fitness center is different in that it will work with the Wexner Medical Center and members to predict potential injuries and illnesses, based on a person's activity level and family history. A diet and fitness routine could be designed to help each member avoid future injuries and potential medical problems, Wexner Medical Center officials said.

Lewellen said the new facility would be different from most medical fitness facilities, which are focused on rehabilitation, and from most fitness centers, which cater to "20 percent of the population who want to have a place to 'go work out.' "

"This facility is unique because everyone is a potential customer," Lewellen said. "Rather than a standardized approach, this facility will have a series of P4 (predict, prevent, personalize, participate) medicine tracks available to join, which range from orthopedic surgery recovery at one end ... to injury prevention, wellness for those with chronic conditions and cancer prevention in the mainstream and improvement in life performance and top competitive training at the other end."

Stefanov said the overall health program being developed for the facility is portable and could be offered as a benefit to companies in the New Albany business parks.

"It could be an amenity for the business park, as well," Stefanov said. "It could benefit residents and employees of the business park or employees of businesses in the city."

A third component involves the New Albany-Plain Local School District, which could benefit from internships and other teaching and learning opportunities at the facility, Stefanov said.

"We will try to make opportunities available for the students from the high school to get more involved in college level courses and internships," he said.

Phil Heit, founder of Healthy New Albany, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing health benefits in the city, said as fitness center members and others involved in the program improve their health, strategies they've proven to work can be shared to improve more lives.

The remaining 13,000 square feet of the new health facility could include two different uses.

City spokesman Scott McAfee said 5,500 square feet will be used for community programming by Health New Albany. The rest of the space could be leased to another medical partner.

Healthy New Albany started a community garden and the local farmers market and also sponsors lectures at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts.

Heit said Healthy New Albany officials intend to hold healthful cooking classes,lectures and yoga classes in the community space.

Stefanov said in addition to providing medical and fitness opportunities for residents, area workers and visitors, the new health facility is expected to generate more development opportunities in the Village Center.

The New Albany Co. and the Daimler Group have agreed to build a 26,000-square-foot building at the northwest corner of Market Street and Johnstown Road. It is anticipated to include more medical office and retail space and could complement the health facility, city officials say.

Union contract

and new staffers

In 2013, New Albany also is expected to negotiate its second public-employee union contract and add three new administrators.

New Albany service employees joined the United Steelworkers of America union and were certified by the State Employment Relations Board on Oct. 10.

Donnie Blatt, a staff representative of United Steelworkers, said 14 service employees were eligible to join.

The city has budgeted $60,000 for contract negotiations in 2013.

The United Steelworkers' first attempt to organize in New Albany was in fall 2010, several months before the village became a city after the 2010 census certified its population exceeded 5,000 residents. New Albany officials appealed to the state and the union was not allowed to organize because New Albany still was a village. Per state law, village employees cannot join public-employee unions.

New Albany's first collective-bargaining contract was negotiated last year with 12 local police officers, represented by Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9. The contract was approved by New Albany City Council May 15.

The city also expects three key personnel changes in 2013.

Police Chief Mark Chaney plans to retire in 2013, though he has not announced his retirement date.

Chaney has been chief since 1998. His 2013 salary is estimated at $103,113.

Stefanov said once a new chief is hired, Chaney will help with the transition.

The city also needs to fill its finance director's position, which has been open since June 8 when James Nicholson's resignation took effect. Nicholson earned $100,118 annually, excluding benefits.

The city accepted 37 applications for the position and narrowed the list to eight. After the first round of interviews, city officials completed a second interview with Meghan Needham of Westerville, senior manager with Julian and Grube; and Randy Gillespie of Zionsville, Ind., chief financial officer and deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Needham was offered the position but she decided to remain with her current employer, McAfee said.

Stefanov said city officials plan to contract with an interim finance director and continue the search this year.

The deputy community development director's position is vacant as well. It opened Nov. 2 when Kathryn Meyer's resignation became effective.

The city's project manager, Adrienne Joly, filled the position in the interim and has since been offered the job, McAfee said.

Twenty-three candidates had applied for the job. Four were interviewed and Joly was the only one to receive a second interview.

Meyer earned $88,764 in salary and the city paid $18,368 for her health, dental and vision benefits.

If Joly accepts the position, the city would have to advertise for a project manager in 2013.

Strategic plan

update

Meyer last year began an update of the city's strategic plan, which, McAfee, said will be completed this year.

The 1998 plan was updated in 2006 and an addendum was included in 2008, adding the Research and Information District in the Central College business campus.

The update will include any changes in development that occurred between 2006 and 2011 and plans for development in the next 10 to 15 years.

The city is working with 30 community members, including: local business owners; school district officials; representatives of community groups, such as the New Albany-Plain Township Historical Society, the New Albany Community Foundation, the New Albany Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of Blacklick Creek; and representatives of city planning groups, such as the parks and trails advisory board, planning commission and board of zoning appeals.

The group has met with city officials, planners from MKSK, a planning and design firm with offices in Columbus, Kentucky and Indiana, and E.P. Ferris and Associates, New Albany's engineering firm.

The strategic plan includes incorporates land use, transportation, parkland and open space, economic development, a sense of community and sustainability issues.

The city has budgeted $150,000 for the update.

2013 budget and

more construction

City services will be maintained in 2013 despite the fact that revenue is expected to decrease slightly, Stefanov said.

Income-tax revenue is estimated to provide $9.5 million to the city's general fund, down from $9.86 million in income taxes collected in 2011. City officials had estimated income-tax revenue would be $10.5 million in 2012.

Stefanov said city officials worked to keep the budget expenditures less than revenue collections, while continuing to improve roads, upgrade the Village Center streetscape and link leisure trails.

The city plans to upgrade High Street in 2013, adding street trees, brick-lined sidewalks and new curbs and lighting north of Main Street. It is estimated to cost the city $1.1 million. The city will use a $249,000 grant and $750,000 interest-free loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the project.

"When that is done, the entire historic Village Center will be upgraded with all new street lights, sidewalks, street trees, curbs and pavement," Stefanov said. "It will match the street topography of Village Hall Road and Market Street. The Village Center will be very consistent in (regard to) its topography."

 

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