Properly celebrating the city's 100th birthday, enhancing communications with residents and facilitating further economic development are among city leaders' prime objectives for 2018.
The coming year will mark Upper Arlington's centennial, and the city and many organizations, businesses and individuals have lined up to celebrate the milestone.
To date, the Upper Arlington Historical Society has created an updated history book; a specially commissioned craft beer will be available in bars throughout the community beginning in February; and an 8-foot sculpture of a mother "Golden Bear" and two cubs is expected to be installed in Northam Park in time for the Upper Arlington Civic Association's July Fourth celebration.
"We're celebrating our centennial and we're very excited about it," said Emma Speight, Upper Arlington community affairs director. "It's coming into focus and all households will receive a centennial magazine by early in the year."
March 20 is Upper Arlington's official centennial anniversary date, and Speight said festivities for the date are being planned.
Information about the celebration, as well as merchandise related to it, can be viewed at uaoh100.org.
Beyond the yearlong party, city officials again are looking at ways to maintain and improve dialogue with residents and business stakeholders in the community.
Those efforts will be priorities in 2018 for both City Manager Ted Staton and City Councilman Kip Greenhill, who served as council's vice president in 2017.
"I think we need to look at the inside of our city and how we communicate with each other," Greenhill said. "We've set that as a goal and we're going to talk about exactly what does that mean at our Jan. 17 council retreat."
The retreat is slated for 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Homewood Suites by Hilton, 1576 W. Lane Ave. The meeting is open to the public.
"I think we need to continue to look at our outreach and getting input, which in turn will give our residents a true sense of ownership of their community," Greenwood said. "These are things people talk about all the time.
"At our retreat, I want us to get very concrete about what these are going to look like and what we're going to do. People are always talking about communication, but we need to talk about what we're going to commit to make this happen."
One initiative Greenhill has supported is for Upper Arlington to begin video-recording council meetings and possibly other city meetings and livestreaming them online. Currently, audio recordings of council meetings are available on the city's website.
Staton said he's also committed to continuing to enhance the city's communications and outreach efforts in 2018, but he said more research needs to be done about video recordings and livestreaming meetings.
"I think we just have to be careful about how much expense is incurred," Staton said. "We have been encouraged by council and certainly encouraged by episodes in the community to look at ways to communicate better.
"It's questionable, in my mind, that livestreams of meetings will generate large groups of people who get their news that way. I think there are plenty of pros and cons to doing it, but we'll make it happen if that's (council's) choice."
As for other 2018 priorities, Staton said he's focused on working with residents and developers to bring economic development to Upper Arlington.
He noted the Arlington Gateway, a nine-story, mixed-use development proposed for the city's eastern border on Lane Avenue, has been approved and city officials will work with Arcadia Development of Ohio to see the project move forward.
If it does, it's expected to bring 80,000 square feet of office space to the city, up to 250 jobs and an influx of at least $750,000 in payroll taxes.
"Within three years, it's projected that will generate upwards of three-quarters of a million dollars a year in increased taxes," Staton said. "That would be a real shot in the arm. It certainly would allow us to weather downturns in the economy better than we have in the past."
Likewise, the city hopes to get an update from Kroger regarding its plans for a mixed-use project to replace the Macy's store at the Kingsdale Center.
"The Kroger redevelopment at Kingsdale, I think, will take a fair amount of time," Staton said. "It will be a mixed use, so it will be more than just a Kroger store.
"That might be the last, best piece of developable real estate in Upper Arlington. That's why it's so important to get right."
Staton said the city has a number of other priorities in 2018.
Those expected in the first half of the year include the full transition from an in-house 911 dispatching center to having those services provided by Dublin's Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center and a shift away from the pay-as-you-throw solid-waste collection system.
Dispatching for Upper Arlington police already has been handed off to the NRECC, and the city's fire services are expected to be served by the center early in 2018.
The city eliminated its 911 dispatch center in hopes of realizing long-term savings from the estimated $1.3 million annual cost to maintain it and to improve response times for 911 calls from cellphones.
Beginning Feb. 5, the city will switch from its longtime pay-as-you-throw trash policy to a contract with Local Waste Services that will provide residents with uniform trash and recycling containers.
The new system will allow residents to toss out an unlimited amount of trash weekly.
Staton said 2018 should be "a period of relative stability" for the city, after recent years have seen changes at the helms of the police, fire, parks and recreation and finance divisions.
He said he hopes to have the results of a "comprehensive review" of the city's parks system by summer, which will help guide possible facilities upgrades and changes in programming at individual parks.
Additionally, the city will explore potential cost savings and the feasibility of environmental initiatives at public buildings.
"We've been doing an analysis of the installation of solar collectors on some of our buildings," Staton said. "We're in the middle of a study.
"We'll be looking at some of the cost benefits and how long it would take to repay the (equipment) investment. Provided we can reduce our carbon footprint in a way that's financially practical, I think we should do it."