Planning has been a New Albany staple since the creation of the city's first strategic plan in 1998.
This plan, and updates since, have helped guide land use; set expectations for aesthetics, architecture and site planning; and led to high quality development of all types. It has been the foundation for the creation of the New Albany International Business Park, the largest master-planned commercial office park in Ohio, while simultaneously controlling density, which at 0.37 home per acre is the lowest residential density by far of comparable central Ohio cities.
The last strategic-plan update, which was in 2014, integrated possible future road and transportation grids and pedestrian and cycling strategies that continue to be impactful.
Since then, our core has continued to grow with the opening of the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany and many new retail and restaurant establishments that our residents have desired.
Because change can happen quickly here, we will update the plan later this year, with input from the community and a continued emphasis on future efforts to move vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic throughout New Albany.
New Albany also was one of the first communities to invest in a municipal fiber-optic network, thanks in large part to corporate partner American Electric Power's decision to locate its mission critical facility in New Albany.
This network has helped facilitate billions of dollars in private investment in our business park, which, in turn, has created more than $70 million in revenue for the New Albany-Plain Local School District to date. This increase in businesses also increases municipal-income-tax revenue, which is of huge importance to the city because more than 80 percent of the revenue that supports city services comes from New Albany's businesses and their employees.
Now, this same fiber-optic network will be utilized to connect and synchronize all 24 of New Albany's traffic signals and the signals in areas adjacent to New Albany, helping to improve travel and create a more environmentally friendly setting with less vehicles idling.
Work is scheduled to begin later this spring and should be completed by mid-2020, thanks to a Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission grant that covers 80 percent of New Albany's estimated $1.166 million construction costs. Columbus also is a partner in this regional project, so signals just outside New Albany that affect vehicle movement within our corporate boundaries eventually can be synched with our signals to improve traffic regionally.
There is no doubt the temporary closure of Dublin-Granville Road has impacted traffic flow, and we greatly appreciate the community's patience during the construction.
This closure was necessary so Dublin-Granville Road could be rebuilt with students' safety in mind.
It is now in the midst of a $6 million makeover, including the addition of crosswalks, dedicated walking trails and a protected bike lane.
We also are narrowing lane widths to reduce speeds and transform the roadway from a wide state route to a much safer local street for students, pedestrians, cyclists and future Rose Run Park users alike.
New Albany will continue its proactive planning efforts, utilizing technology and building partnerships to enhance the quality of life and maintain the small-town feel so many love.
Joe Stefanov is New Albany's city manager.