In her final State of the City address before her planned retirement at the end of the year, Upper Arlington city manager Virginia Barney reviewed the city's accomplishments over the past year and looked ahead to goals and challenges the city will face this year.

In her final State of the City address before her planned retirement at the end of the year, Upper Arlington city manager Virginia Barney reviewed the city's accomplishments over the past year and looked ahead to goals and challenges the city will face this year.

The transformation of the Kingsdale Shopping Center and the opening of the new Giant Eagle Market District has become one of the biggest economic drivers in the city.

"The Market District project has exceeded both anticipated construction value and our projections for staffing and payroll," Barney said.

The next phase of Kingsdale redevelopment, which will continue throughout 2011 and in years to come, will include office space and additional retail uses.

A 10-year review of the city's master plan, which was adopted in 2001, is currently under way.

The purpose of the review, Barney said, is "to ensure our long-term goals are on track with community sentiment and that we have the necessary tools in place to help us on that path."

Barney noted several facilities improvements that have taken place around the city in recent years.

"Just a few months ago, thanks to the hard work of the Upper Arlington Community Foundation and its donors, we gathered again at Sunny 95 Park to celebrate the beginnings of the new Amelita Mirolo Barn, which promises to be the premier indoor recreational facility within our park system," Barney said.

The opening of Fire Station 72 at 3861 Reed Road in December 2009 was one of the biggest highlights of the past year, Barney said.

"Station 72 has been recognized nationally for its design and functionality, and for the project's overall cost effectiveness when compared to new facilities in other communities," she said.

A series of road and underground infrastructure improvements will take place through the city's Capital Improvements Program, which allots $5-million annually.

"This coming year the trend continues with several major projects readying to begin in March, as Arlington Avenue work is completed and in the Mallway, the first phase of a Waltham Road reconstruction project begins, and Fishinger Road is scheduled reconstruction and installation of a new sidewalk between Five Points and Kenny Road," Barney said.

A review of the city's economic development efforts through 2009 show a return on investment of $2 and 84 cents for every dollar spent.

"Approximately 11 percent of our total income tax revenue was generated through economic development incentive agreements," Barney said. "Ten of our top 255 income tax payers have been assisted by our program, of which five were new to the community."

The city has been able to maintain a Triple A credit rating since 2008 and continued to secure alternate funding opportunities last year.

"More than $2-million in grants and loans was secured to install new sidewalks, to support the Arlington Avenue reconstruction and to support demolition work at Kingsdale," Barney said.

Barney addressed challenges that the city will face this year. She encouraged residents to visit the city's web site (www.uaoh.net) for an in-depth explanation of the issue with Tree of Life Christian School, which is suing the city in an attempt to occupy the former AOL/CompuServe site off Henderson Road.

"Upper Arlington has little land dedicated to commercial use. Our zoning laws are in place to ensure appropriate use of these sites, and to facilitate making the most of them for the benefit of us all," Barney said. "This site is home to the largest office building in our community, therefore it's only proper that this issue be given the appropriate consideration by our community."

The city also failed to reach an agreement with the owner of Onyx nightclub to increase safety at the establishment at 1973 Henderson Road. The club, part of the Arlington Complex, closed in late November following a Nov. 14 shooting.

"A review and determination of the city's objection to renewing this entity's liquor license is pending by the state's Division of Liquor Control, so we are yet to know the final outcome of this issue," she said.

The biggest challenges the city will face in 2011 are budgetary, with elimination of Ohio's estate tax and reductions to the Local Government Fund under consideration at the state level, Barney said.

City council has begun the process of searching for a new city manager.

"An ad hoc committee has been formed to map out the framework for the process and to seek a search firm to help us secure an individual who will best match our community's character, goals and needs moving forward," Barney said.

Following Barney's address, council members presented awards to community members, businesses, organizations and city employees in the following categories:

Distinguished Service Award (city employees) Terry Baxter, fleet management; Roger Estep, chief building officer in the Development Department; Steven Telfer electrical superintendent.

Business Ship Print eSell, John Pugh, owner.

Community Safety Stay UA.

Super Senior Bob Miles, longtime Senior Center volunteer.

Youth Erin O'Brien, who has been involved with the UA Civic Association junior director program, among other activities.