Upper Arlington News

City notes

Two OSU student projects benefit Upper Arlington

By THEODORE J. STATON
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Upper Arlington's proximity to Ohio State University brings with it many benefits. Many of the university's faculty, administrative staff and graduate students call UA home -- a definite boost to our impressive resident demographics.

The recent reinvestment in the Lane Avenue commercial district can certainly be attributed in no small part to having the OSU "city within a city" right next door to us.

Then we occasionally get to enjoy wonderful partnerships that provide student groups a chance to grapple with real-world projects and issues. Two such projects have been in the works during the fall and I wish to share them with you.

Our senior planner, Chad Gibson, has been doing double duty in recent years, teaching for OSU's City & Regional Planning Department. His current class elected to tackle a topic that has been the cause for much frustration in the community over the years -- development of a UA connectivity plan that would seek to provide some workable policies and solutions for expanding the community's sidewalk network.

To say that the end product presented to council on Dec. 2 is of a professional standard would be an understatement.

Contained within this 100-plus page document is a thorough analysis of existing conditions, along with a summary of the best practices of other communities across the nation.

Additionally, the team hosted a public meeting in the fall and we facilitated an online survey on the topic for them to provide opportunity for citizen input on their work and ideas.

The information learned through their research was then applied to develop a set of policy recommendations -- including some funding options that the city might incorporate into its current toolbox for addressing sidewalks.

The work now begins for us, with a council subcommittee readying to dive into the report in depth early in the new year to determine which components of the connectivity plan should be recommended for adoption to council as a whole. So watch for updates as this new phase of study begins.

The final report is available at uaoh.net. If you have any questions about it, contact my office at 614-583-5040.

A second project can be attributed to one of our residents who is a faculty member of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, David Landsbergen, and our part-time intern, Megan Hoffman, who is completing her master's degree in public administration this year.

Under David's tutelage, Megan and several of her classmates have been taking a look at city communications and exploring new tools that can expand citizen engagement. When our community affairs director, Emma Speight, first met with the group, they became particularly intrigued by the gap that often occurs when trying to inform and engage the community in a discussion of important budgetary issues.

Since managing the city's finances is not a tangible service, it's understandable that many residents don't have this issue high on their radar.

My thanks to all the students involved in these two projects, as well as to Chad and David for bringing them to our community.

Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.

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