Uptown Westerville visitors accustomed to enjoying the green space in front of the Westerville Municipal Building have only a construction site to look at this summer as the City Hall Civic Green project enters its final months.
The parks and recreation department aims to "transform the center of Uptown" by adding more green space, a performance stage, lit seating walls, walkways and other amenities to the Municipal Building, 21 S. State St., as part of a two-phase project totaling more than $2.6 million.
The current construction status is obvious to passers-by, as the Uptown focal point is in the midst of major work. But to an observer, project manager Nate Lang said, the overall amount of behind-the-scenes work may not be clear.
"It doesn't look like a whole lot is happening because it's all underground," Lang said, "but (construction crews) are diligently working."
Underground utilities and architectural features are being installed, and the construction of the new performance space and seating should soon be evident.
While pedestrians and drivers are minimally affected by the work, construction has affected some areas associated with typical city summers. Work has necessitated the move of the popular Arts Alley at monthly Mount Carmel St. Ann's 4th Friday events in Uptown, and at times pedestrians have been unable to access the nearby crosswalk or the front of City Hall.
The work also has closed the entrance to the Division of Police, moving police reception and records into the main Municipal Building.
But city officials believe the results will be worth the headaches.
New walkways will connect to the expanded City Hall parking lot and serve as the first real demonstration of an alley system laid out by the Uptown Plan, while the new common space fits with the city's goals of having more foot traffic on State Street.
Nearly two years ago as the project began, parks director Randy Auler said he felt the new space was going to be "heavily utilized," and emphasized the importance of kicking off the focus on alleys.
"It fits in with the enhancements of the parking lot and creating that connection with the Uptown-State Street area," he said.
Residents should see changes to the demolished courtyard popping up quickly, according to Lang.
Now, with only landscaping and site furnishing left to complete after the architecture and utility work, the concept should soon become more clear.
"It should really start to take some shape," he said. "People should start to see some progress very soon."