Construction could begin in late spring on New Albany's project to revitalize the Rose Run creek corridor near the village center and make it a focal point for the community.
The design is about 30 percent complete and should be finished by January, said Adrienne Joly, New Albany's director of administrative services.
The project could be ready to bid in spring, she said. Allowing for an 18- to 24-month construction period, the work could be completed by fall 2019 at the earliest, she said.
Rose Run flows mostly parallel to Dublin-Granville Road through New Albany until it meets Rocky Fork Creek in the New Albany Country Club, not far west of Greensward and Harlem roads.
Improvements to Rose Run Park, a mostly wooded area on the south side of Dublin-Granville Road east of Market Street that is accessed by leisure trails, will be part of the project.
"We truly believe that this is going to be a central park for New Albany," Joly said.
Last October, New Albany City Council entered into a professional-services contract with landscape-architecture firm MKSK and civil-engineering firm EMH&T for construction plans. The design contract cannot exceed $1.4 million.
Construction for the project is slated to cost $17.5 million, a figure that could change as the design draws closer to completion, Joly said.
City leaders will look at such financing methods as bonds or tax-increment-financing districts to fund the project, she said. A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.
A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting resulting incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.
Although a 5-mile bicycle-trail loop ultimately is planned, the first phase of the project will create a half-mile segment from Fodor Road to Main Street to the east, Joly said. The final version of the loop will feature a bike path and an adjoining walkway.
Dublin-Granville Road, which runs east to west between Fodor and Main, will remain two lanes, but the road itself will be reduced in width, Joly said.
A 34-foot bridge and promenade will connect the New Albany-Plain Local School District campus to the New Albany branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Market Square, she said. The north landing of the promenade will end in a plaza on the lawn near New Albany Middle School and New Albany High School, and the south end of the promenade will end at a public garden near the library.
Birch trees will be planted along the promenade, Joly said.
The leisure trail near Rose Run also will be rerouted underneath the bridge, Joly said, and stepping stones will lead down to the creek. City crews will remove invasive species growing around the creek to create an area with a high tree canopy.
A children's natural play area, which could include logs, boulders and acrylic mirrors, will be added to Rose Run Park, she said.
The project is expected to create opportunities for students because it opens up the district campus and makes it easier for students to access other parts of the community for learning, said New Albany-Plain Local Superintendent Michael Sawyers.
"It's an outstanding opportunity for the school district to partner with the city and the community to create a connection between our school campus and Market Square and all of the surrounding businesses, learning spaces and more," he said.
Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Patrick Losinski said library-system leaders are eager for the library to be "an anchor for development" in New Albany.
"And a pedestrian bridge will provide a much stronger connection to the schools that will enable us to better serve students," he said.
Currently, the best route for students to reach the library at Market Square involves walking to the southwest corner of the district campus and crossing Dublin-Granville Road to Market Street.