Hundreds of Upper Arlington and Columbus residents gathered in council chambers Monday, Sept. 27, to voice their opinions on the proposed Zollinger Road extension project.

Hundreds of Upper Arlington and Columbus residents gathered in council chambers Monday, Sept. 27, to voice their opinions on the proposed Zollinger Road extension project.

Mayor Frank Ciotola told the audience that each side of the issue would receive 20 minutes combined to speak in front of council. They ended up getting close to an hour each.

City manager Ginny Barney gave an overview of the proposed extension project.

Council members voted Sept. 13 to apply for a $4.3-million federal grant through the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. Barney said the grant would cover about 80 percent of the cost of the project, which would extend Zollinger Road to Ackerman Road on the east and would include sidewalks, multi-use paths and utility extension.

"We will find out in February if indeed we have been awarded the grant, and we will proceed from there with our conversations," she said.

Linda Meadows of Shadywood Road in a Columbus neighborhood near the proposed extension voiced a number of reasons why the city should not proceed with the project.

She noted that the road, which would be a new main artery from state Route 315, would decrease traffic along Lane Avenue and detrimentally affect the shops there. She also said the road would put additional strain on the police force and would take away some of the woods on the Ohio State University agricultural campus that is used for research.

"We are not opposing progress, but we don't think progress is defined by building a road where truly none is needed," she said on behalf of a group of her neighbors.

John Kost of Halstead Road said he opposed the connection because it would produce more traffic on Zollinger Road near Upper Arlington High School.

"The high school was put where it was put in 1956 because it's off the beaten path," he said. "That was the whole point. . You just need to think it through."

A number of people also spoke to the economic development benefits the road extension could produce.

Frank Kass, CEO of the Continental Real Estate Companies, which is handling the construction and management of the new Kingsdale Center project, said the Zollinger Road extension would help secure a future for the shopping center.

"On a short-term basis, Kingsdale is going to be just fine," Kass said. "From a long-term basis, connectivity is what keeps things alive."

He noted that the Columbus' decision not to connect Bethel and Morse roads had "detrimental effect" on businesses in the area.

Chris Widing, chairman of the Community Improvement Corporation, said he agreed with Kass.

"I believe a lot of the things that Mr. Kass just said are very very correct," Widing said. "We also believe it is very very critical to keep the collective residents up to speed on this. The economic development arm of this city thinks it is very critical to proceed with your grant application."

Bill Westbrook of Keswick Drive said he thinks the proposed Zollinger Road extension would help spur business development in the Kingsdale area.

"We need to do everything we can to promote business," he said. "There is no office demand (at Kingsdale) and one of the main reasons is connectivity. I think the Zollinger-Ackerman connector will greatly enhance that."

Mayor Ciotola said it is early in the process.

"Studies obviously are going to be done," he said. "We have a long way to go."