After a year of policy changes, planning and departures, 2016 should be a year of action and implementation in Worthington.

After a year of policy changes, planning and departures, 2016 should be a year of action and implementation in Worthington.

In 2015, residents elected a new Worthington City Council member and questioned others' commitment to residents. They passed a charter amendment and made their feelings heard on a project proposed for the former site of the United Methodist Children's Home.

On the heels of that divisive year, Council President Bonnie Michael said council members are ready to come together, starting with an upcoming council retreat designed to bring the group closer.

"What usually comes from the council retreat is everyone having the opportunity to express their views and thoughts, and coming up with consensus and (setting) goals and directions for next two years," she said.

The group will have to get on the same page quickly as the city faces several important decisions in the coming months.

Perhaps the highest-profile decision to come from 2016 will affect the intersection of Huntley, Worthington-Galena and East Wilson Bridge roads.

The intersection -- known for backed-up traffic during rush hour -- is under study for complete renovation in conjunction with other area entities. The city has begun referring to the intersection as the Northeast Gateway project.

City Manager Matt Greeson said the direction of the gateway will be more clear by the end of the year.

"We'll move from talking about it and studying it to council picking an option and we'll move toward design," he said.

Michael, who also wants to emphasize pedestrian and bicycle access at the intersection, agreed it will be an important and major project for a location that needs improvement.

"I think that is an intersection that has been difficult for connecting one part of the school district to another and allowing business to flow back and forth," she said. "It's been a nightmare for anyone who wants to ride a bike or walk in that area.

"I think it's also going to open (U.S. Route) 23 to Worthington-Galena Road and over to the Westerville bike trails. Once we have this part in place, it will open doors to connect in other areas."

Worthington residents are no strangers to roadwork.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's North Side Mega Fix project has made commuting difficult for those who use either state Route 315 or Route 23 at Interstate 270.

But both projects -- particularly at Route 23 -- are nearing completion, and Greeson said the city is thrilled.

"To me, that's a major accomplishment," he said. "We've successfully worked with ODOT, and I can remember years when funding for those projects was uncertain. We've had years, particularly at 315 and 270, where we responded to over 200 emergencies a year, so we see real benefits in terms of the reduction of congestion and we also think there's going to be significant improvement from a safety standpoint."

Some key pieces of development should begin to take shape in 2016.

The major renovation of 350 W. Wilson Bridge Road by Trivium Development will begin this year, becoming the new site of the Central Ohio Urology Group.

Meanwhile, in downtown Worthington, the Showe Property will become a small group of condominiums, and the 752 building finally has a tenant in Sweet Carrot and is expected to have another tenant by the end of the year.

But the elephant in the room is the UMCH property, which is still surrounded by uncertainty.

Lifestyle Communities presented a proposal for the site in 2015 to terrible reviews from Worthington residents. City officials have gone out of their way to assert that no plan has been approved or even submitted thus far.

Greeson said he expects that response to be heard by LC.

"We expect that they are reflecting on the message of the voters in passing Issue 38, the public comment they have received since presenting their ideas to the community in June and the statement adopted by the City Council," Greeson said. "How this will shape the future of the property remains to be seen."

Michael and Greeson said there's nothing new to report on the site, but restated the importance of continued community involvement.

"We have been clear that the best approach would be to extensively engage the community and involve them in planning for the future of the property," Michael said.