During Westerville's annual State of the Community address last week, city leaders gathered to share what they felt were their greatest accomplishments of 2016 and their priorities moving forward.

The occasion brought together City Manager David Collinsworth, Westerville City School District school board President Rick Vilardo, Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce board Chairwoman Gwen Nichols, interim Westerville Public Library Director Kristin Michel and Otterbein University President Kathy Krendl to discuss the state of Westerville.

Collinsworth spent much of his time praising the city's economic growth. He pointed to progress on the Aloft and Marriott Renaissance hotels and also spoke of the emerging north side near Polaris Parkway.

He also apologized for the city's traffic, residents' No. 1 concern in a recent city survey, and promised that when work on State Street finishes, the city will do its best to get through the upcoming project at Cleveland Avenue as quickly and efficiently as possible.

"Unfortunately, the project still cannot be completed in one construction season," he said. "The construction is broken into shorter phases, but unlike State and Schrock, the existing lanes will be used to maintain traffic and existing lanes will not be closed while work progresses. This project, too, is significantly funded from state and federal sources, approximately 85 percent of which has been received in grants."

For Vilardo, the future of the school system is bright.

He touted the district's healthy finances, and said Westerville is a district striving toward meeting "the diverse needs of all of its learners."

"Thanks to a strong financial outlook and continued community support, district officials have been able to restore and expand academic programming at all levels," he said. "We've also been able to restore services and address many of the challenges created by the budget shortfalls our district experienced just five years ago. I'm proud to say that we've been able to make such progress while avoiding deficit spending, and while maintaining a positive cash balance."

The other leaders followed suit, highlighting their biggest accomplishments of the year.

Krendl highlighted the university's work with its newest building, The Point, while Michel noted the library's continued five-star library designation and Nichols called Westerville "one of the best places to live, work, grow a business and play."

For the full video of the address, visit westerville.org.

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