Northwest News

2012 brought encouraging, discouraging signs to Northwest Columbus

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Columbus officials are considering putting a shared use path along the north side of Dublin-Granville Road between Sawmill and Linworth roads. Many community members, however, think it should be placed on the south side of the road.
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For his part, Northwest Civic Association president John Ehlers said he believes 2012 offered signs both encouraging and discouraging on the local and national levels.

In responding to a request for a look back at the year now drawing to a close from all members of the association board, Ehlers started with what he termed the highlights:

"Columbus has a new chief of police, the first woman to serve in that position, and I am impressed with her community awareness and innovative programs, for example the recent ... article about utilizing taxicabs as another set of eyes and ears, among others," Ehlers said.

"Safety and the preservation of our quality of life are paramount in communities throughout Columbus, and elsewhere, and with tightening budgets, I applaud her willingness to think out of the box," he said.

Evidence of an economy recovering after five troubled years also were deemed encouraging by the NWCA president.

"Home values and employment rates are rising steadily, and residential and commercial construction is improving," Ehlers said.

"I think most of us have learned to live within our budgets, and I believe our national leaders understand this, too."

But not all was rosy in 2012, in the view of Ehlers.

Ehlers turned his attention to some troubling aspects on the local front.

"The solutions to some complex, local infrastructure problems take too long to achieve," he said.

Ehlers used as an example the issue that "for over 20 years, the jurisdictional complexities of the stretch of (state Route) 161 between the railroad tracks at Linworth and (state Route) 315 have kept roadway improvements from reducing traffic congestion there.

"The ... cost to the community is enormous, and continues to increase each year, not just for developers, but also for consumers and area residents, too," Ehlers stated.

"Perhaps if we had more effective national Congressional leadership as role models, local stakeholders would find a way to come together and find solutions to complex problems here, too."

Closings, openings

After 85 years off Henderson Road, DeSantis Florists picked up stakes and moved to 4460 Kenny Road, clearing the way for construction of an extended-stay facility on the property.

Preferred Living has begun construction on the project, which includes four three-story buildings, with a total of 114 units, and three garages on the 3.3-acre parcel.

Meanwhile, DeSantis moved in November to a vacant Verizon cell phone store on Kenny.

Construction also got under way on the Benchmark, a $10.5 million apartment complex at the northeast corner of Kenny and Henderson roads.

ZBP Properties, based in Worthington, is responsible for the development, which features 19 three-story buildings totaling 100,000 square feet.

The Benchmark took over a 3.6-acre site long occupied by Max & Erma's, TGI Friday's and Benchmark Outfitters store.

Across the street on Kenny Road, a developer is recasting the vacant Borders bookstore location. A fitness club and tavern had committed to the site, which will have up to four storefronts.

But it wasn't all good news on the development front in Northwest Columbus.

Kmart closed at 5005 Olentangy River Road after 35 years in business. A replacement actively is being sought, a developer said.

Dog park opens

Canines found a new place to cavort in the neighborhood, as the Godown Road Dog Park opened in July.

The facility, which sits on 5 acres, has separate areas for small and large dogs.

Church expansion

Bethel Presbyterian Church announced an expansion project.

The church, 1735 Bethel Road, will spend $1.7 million on a 5,600-square-foot addition to the rectory and fellowship hall, plus a new kitchen, classrooms, offices and several cosmetic improvements.

Erfurt honored

Fred Erfurt, who was named Centennial High School's educator of the year in 2012, retired after a 37-year teaching career.

Erfurt was an American government teacher at Centennial, where he also served as basketball coach for 16 years.

Recycling

Northwest Side residents were among the first wave of Columbus residents to receive recycling carts.

Collection began in June for the citywide program.

Route 161 path

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has agreed to fund construction of a multipurpose path on state Route 161 between Linworth and Sawmill Roads.

There's still some debate as to which side of the road the path will reside.

Columbus officials want it on the north side of the road because they don't want people crossing the busy road, and more people will have access to the path and stores along the corridor.

Some, however, argue that the south side of 161 is more appropriate because there are fewer street and driveway crossings, which also could pose a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians.

A working group is expected to convene early in the year to further discuss the matter.

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