Growth will be a key word in 2018 for the city of Reynoldsburg, according to Mayor Brad McCloud, as city leaders oversee construction of a YMCA Community Center, hire a police chief and make improvements to roads and parks.
"This is an exciting and vibrant time for the city," McCloud said. "The single biggest issue on the horizon for 2018 is construction of the YMCA. Demolition of the (old swim club and bingo hall) will begin shortly after the first of the year, and construction will commence thereafter."
He said construction for the YMCA Community Center would continue all year, but the building is expected to be completed by summer 2019.
"The facility will be about 50,000 square feet and include both indoor and outdoor swimming pools," McCloud said.
An outdoor splash pad and indoor running track also are in the plans.
Creating a comprehensive master plan for the city would be another major endeavor, McCloud said.
"Earlier this year, OHM Advisors was selected to lead this effort, which will include extensive input from the public," he said. "This plan will provide a better definition of our business, residential and park districts and help promote local development. It is expected that the process for this plan will take most of, if not all, of 2018."
Other concerns include selecting a new police chief. Former Chief Jim O'Neill retired two months ago.
One of the candidates for that position, Lt. William Early, was named interim police chief.
"We hope to have the new chief in place by early spring of 2018," McCloud said. "As a result of Issue 11 passing, we also intend to increase our police force. City Council increased the authorized strength of the police force, so we intend to hire more officers during 2018."
Voters in May approved Issue 11, a hike in the city income-tax rate, from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.
The city also has a $4 million street plan to accomplish in 2018.
"This will be the biggest street program in many years and maybe ever," McCloud said. "It will include the repaving of parking lots in Civic and Huber Park."
Speaking of parks, two bridges are scheduled to be replaced at Pine Quarry Park.
McCloud said the city received $100,000 in grant funds from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the bridges and other improvements at Pine Quarry.
"We will repave the parking lot, repair the retaining wall, install fencing and a storm drain on Priestley Drive at the entrance of the park, as well as repair the main trail of the park," he said.
City Council President Doug Joseph said his first concern of the new year would be in "getting three brand-new City Council members up to speed."
Stacie Baker and Kristin Bryant were elected to council in November, edging out incumbent Chris Long.
Incumbent Barth Cotner was re-elected, but because council member Stephen Cicak was elected city auditor, the city still has to appoint a council member in his place.
"In just one election, council lost 14 years of legislative experience, and five of the eight members of council will have two years or less experience," Joseph said.
He said he plans to recommend that council committees be restructured slightly so that two committees get new chairmen and that all four committees get new vice chairmen.
Joseph agreed that police protection would be a major concern in 2018.
"The 2018 city budget provides for the completion of an increase in police strength, and council will need to discuss and approve the funding and equipping of these officers," Joseph said. "Council would also need to approve the appointment of a new police chief in February."
He said the city also needs a new development director. Dan Havener left Reynoldsburg and was hired as Grove City's development director.
"This individual will recruit new businesses and work with existing businesses to provide new employment opportunities to city residents and strengthen business income tax revenue to the city treasury," Joseph said.