Projects ranging from major road widenings to economic-development opportunities await Newark officials in the coming year.

Projects ranging from major road widenings to economic-development opportunities await Newark officials in the coming year.

Mayor Bob Diebold told ThisWeek that a pair of big improvements are on the horizon, with one being the road-widening project of Deo Drive and Mount Vernon Road, scheduled to start in the spring.

"It's a screwy intersection," Diebold said. "It gets jammed. It has been a problem for 10 years."

The design for the project was finished in 2008. Right-of-way acquisitions have been in the works this year, with prices still being negotiated, according to Diebold.

The project, which involves aligning Waterworks Road to match up with Deo, is scheduled to go to bid Feb. 25.

Newark also will start land acquisitions for the Country Club Drive road-widening project along the Newark campus of Ohio State University/Central Ohio Technical College in 2010.

In addition to road improvements, Diebold expects progress to be made at the former Newark Processing property, 1367-1601 E. Main St.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced the completion of several environmentally protective projects at the site, including the stabilization of an eroding bank with newly planted streamline grass, shrubs and trees, as well as the replacement of a culvert to provide safe access for future site construction and redevelopment activities.

Erosion and stockpiled aluminum dross waste had threatened the integrity of the Licking River for many years. The finished work has opened the door for Newark to further develop the 66-acre site for re-use and potentially attract new industry and jobs to the area.

In addition to the $2.3-million riverbank stabilization completed in 2008, Newark has received $2-million from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund to conduct further remediation and demolition activities.

"We'll put another $2-million into cleaning up hazardous waste," Diebold said. "The city will own the 66-acre site, and we'll be in partnership with Madison Township."

Part of the site is in Madison Township.

Diebold said Newark also would look at contractor registration for sanitation services.

Like Granville, he said, Newark also could move to a citywide carrier for trash but still provide residents with the option of using a private hauler if they choose.

Diebold said he estimates residents could see lower rates with a citywide carrier, citing Zanesville as an example for municipal trash pickup.

"They have municipal trash pickup, and they don't have the trash complaints we have," he said. "We spend a lot of time chasing down trash complaints. Zanesville picks everything up for about $8 a month.

"They are smaller than us. They have four compactor trucks and an on-site facility," he said. "We would like to look at that under safety and enforcement. It's an involved process, but we'll take a shot at it."

Within the makeup of the city in 2010, Diebold also anticipates the reorganization of departments to combine community and economic development into one division, calling it the department of development.

"We'll try to get equity out of the efficiency of putting it tighter," he said. "We'll do a job merge and look at attrition. It would go to one director. I want to keep someone in charge of economic development."

Diebold said the move to one department has been in the works, even before the economy began to slide.

"It will be a busy year," he said. "We'll make the best of it."