City leaders look to prepare for economic development boom
City leaders intend to review and possibly update Worthington's development plans and zoning codes to prepare for what some believe could be an economic development boom.
"As I look at it, Worthington is getting ready to pop," Worthington City Council member Bonnie Michael said. "We need to make sure it is done to the benefit of the residents."
She and other council members, along with city staffers, met for a two-day retreat Nov. 2 and 3 at the Griswold Center. The purpose was to set goals for the coming year and to talk informally about the issues facing the city.
"Organize to advance land-use planning" was the No. 1 goal, according to a poll of council members taken at the end of the meeting.
Also important is planning to make the city more accessible to walkers and bicyclists; holding a joint discussion with the Architectural Review Board/Municipal Planning Commission regarding economic development issues; and continuing with the new sewer systems under construction.
The development of the Wilson Bridge Road corridor seems to be jumping near the Shops at Worthington Place, but other areas need help and offices all over town are in need of updates.
Specific plans need to be developed for the Harding Hospital site, the east end of Wilson Bridge Road, west Worthington, Huntley Road and the High Street corridor, according to council members.
Council wants to assist in the redevelopment of those areas and to make sure they are not presented with any surprises.
"What do you need from us to combat Giant Eagle?" council member Scott Myers asked. "My constituency doesn't want a Giant Eagle."
Providing incentives to update aging office building also was popular with council, as was encouraging light manufacturing along Huntley Road.
The city also needs a plan to improve walkability and paths for bicycles, according to the council poll.
Michael said she recently rode on extensive paths in Westerville and Dublin, and Worthington needs to develop its plans with east-west routes and accessibility to restaurants and shops in mind.
Setting aside capital-improvement-program money each year for bike paths and sidewalks would be one way to make sure the issues are addressed, Myers said.
"That assumes there is any money," council member Bob Chosy said.
Creating an attractive city entrance on West Granville Road, at state Route 315, also was discussed.
Council will consider a recent history project to create a record of the institutional memories of council members and staffers who retired over the past few years. Among those are former City Manager Dave Elder; former council member Lou Briggs; retiring law director Mike Minister; former Police Chief Mike Mauger; and Vice Mayor James Lorimer.
Council president Lou Goorey suggested using the $60,000-plus remaining from the 2003 bicentennial fund to pay someone to compile the history.
"We, as an institution, are losing all kinds of memory," City Manager Matt Greeson said.