After spending the past two years talking about improvements to the West Broad Street corridor, Prairie Township trustees are promising residents those improvements will become visible in 2010.

After spending the past two years talking about improvements to the West Broad Street corridor, Prairie Township trustees are promising residents those improvements will become visible in 2010.

Trustees say they are excited about what's in store for the coming year, which includes the possibility of building a new community/senior center from the ground up, the completion of the Darby Accord Town Center Plan, and finally cashing in on an economic development plan that has been in the works for the past few years.

Trustee chair Doug Stormont said residents will see progress next year with the township's initiative to put in place a JEDD (Joint Economic Development District) agreement.

"The township is working to finalize the JEDD agreement as well as work out the tax abatement piece of the West Broad Improvement District," Stormont said. "The first few businesses will be joining the JEDD this year and the preliminary plan for the streetscape project will be finalized."

Stormont said the township will also proceed with efforts to do some economic development and infrastructure projects on underused and blighted properties, including the Hometown Inn site.

Also to be completed next year is the Town Center Master Plan, which will guide new development in the western portion of the township within the area of the Big Darby Accord.

"The Town Center Master Plan will be completed by summer, allowing Prairie Township to begin making zoning changes that will encourage responsible planned development," Stormont said. "This is an exciting project and the public meeting scheduled for the last week in January is a great opportunity for the community to take part in a creative process that will result in big changes for our community."

Stormont said the board is also working with Brown Township and Franklin County as well as conservation and development interests to draft a model conservation development district for Prairie Township.

"These open space developments are designated to be built in several areas of Franklin County's Darby watershed, including a large swath of land south of the town center area," Stormont said. "The township will also be looking at implementing recommendations for putting a stream buffer district in place."

Such action will require striking a careful balance between land owner interests and the township's desire to protect the Big Darby, Stormont said.

"Both the conservation development and the stream buffers will be innovative tools that will open the way for smart growth in Prairie Township," he said.

Another possibility for next year is that the township will be able to build a brand-new community/senior center. But the most desirable location has been forfeited by the board.

"The purchase of the land next to township hall is on hold while the current owner explores selling it to a party that wants to develop an office building," Stormont said. "Such a project would be a great benefit to the township by helping to get the JEDD off the ground, as well as by providing jobs and by replacing an unsightly vacant lot with an attractive building."

Whether the township proceeds with the purchase of the Pasadena Avenue land or purchases another site, the development of the community center building will be pursued during 2010, Stormont said.

"With the decision being made to allow a medical building go in on the site at 42 Pasadena, I look forward to finding another site suitable for the senior center and be able to get a new facility built," trustee-elect Ron Ball said.

Trustees said the township will also continue to be good stewards when it comes to residents' tax dollars. The township will also continue to provide outstanding services to its residents.

"Residents will continue to see the township run in a fiscally responsible manner in 2010," trustee Steve Kennedy said. "We have been looking at the pros and cons of starting back up the leaf pick-up program. Residents should see a vote on starting this program back up in 2010."

Stormont said Prairie Township will also continue to focus on eliminating nuisance properties.

"We will also be working with the county in its efforts to buy and improve for sale foreclosed residential properties in eastern Prairie Township," Stormont said. "Strategies that will help homeowners to invest in properties in order to prevent decline in maturing neighborhoods is also of interest."