Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage began the annual State of the City breakfast May 2 by reviewing achievements he described as "what we should know about Grove City."

The city is the largest suburb entirely within Franklin County with more than 42,000 residents and a projected population of 54,000 by 2050, he said.

It has nearly 16,000 living units, a number that is expected to jump to 22,000 by 2050, Stage said.

"Three of the last four years, we've been the top suburb in new housing starts," he said.

While home sales in the city "took a little dip" in 2018, falling to 735 from 794 the previous year, median home prices and average household income have both been increasing, Stage said.

The median home price increased by 8.5 percent in 2018 to $220,904, while average household income stood at $81,336, an increase of more than $4,000 over the past two years, he said.

"People want to live here," Stage said.

Nearly 2,600 residential units are under construction or planned at multiple developments, including Beulah Park, Brown's Farm and Farmstead, he said.

Residents who already live in Grove City are happy they do, Stage said.

The biennial community-attitudes survey conducted earlier this year showed that 93 percent of those questioned have a positive attitude about living in Grove City, he said. That was an increase from 81 percent in 2011.

Ninety-one percent of those surveyed said they believe the city is moving in the right direction, an increase of 7 percent since 2011, Stage said.

In the Community Attitudes Survey, 503 residents were interviewed for an average of 14 minutes each by public-opinion research firm Saperstein Associates. The phone interviews were conducted in March and April.

In order to make sure the surevy reached a representative sample of Grove City residents, the firm dialed 9,900 phone numbers, including both landline and cellphone numbers. The calls not included in the survey results included hang ups, people who refused to participate and people who did not actually live in Grove City or otherwise were not eligible for the survey. The survey is conducted every two years.

The city's financial picture is strong, Stage said.

As a policy, Grove City strives to have at least three months operating revenue in reserve, he said, however, the city now has six months of reserve funding.

The number of jobs in Grove City has increased from 21,059 in 2014 to 26,000 in 2018, Stage said.

Major employers such as CTDI, Dollar Shave Club, HKT Teleservices and Tosoh America have moved into or expanded their presence in the community, he said.

The total valuation of non-residential building projects over the last five years is $421,411,099, Stage said.

"The Mount Carmel and OhioHealth hospital projects bumped that up a bit, but it's quite a number," he said.

The two hospitals opening over the past year have led many to call Grove City "a healthcare hot-bed," Stage said.

That is demonstrated not only by the hospitals, but the medical offices that have sprung up since the hospital projects were announced, he said.

Along with all the good news, Stage said, "there is a reality check" with the opioid and heroin crisis facing Grove City and other communities.

Instead of traffic violations, an increasing number of mayor's-court cases involve petty thefts committed by drug users, he said.

"They know to keep the value of their thefts to less than $500 so they come to mayor's court and not the 'big courts,' " Stage said.

The city is evaluating whether to implement a drug court as other communities have done, he said. Don Walters, a spokesman with the mayor's office, said central Ohio communities that have a mayor's drug court include Upper Arlington, Hilliard and Whitehall.

Residents have been enjoying the accessible playground built adjacent to the Buddy Ball field, and the Gantz Park playground also will be renovated into an accessible site, Stage said.

The Scioto Grove Metro Park "is an absolute gift" for the community, he said. A project is planned to move Holton Road to align with the entrance to the park and provide improved access.

By the end of the year, a bike trail will extend from the Town Center to the park.

Other planned initiatives include a major upgrade of Borror Road, rebuilds of Seeds Road and Southwest Boulevard, the installation of a signal at Broadway and Demorest Drive, and improvements to the intersection of state Route 665 and North Meadows Road, Stage said.

The city also is finalizing an update of its thoroughfare plan, Town Center framework, Southwest Area Plan and will be the pilot community for the Central Ohio Transit Authority's first mile/last mile initiative that will provide more access from bus stops to places of work and schools, he said.

Some potential projects that are envisioned and could someday come to fruition include greater trail connectivity, a performing-arts facility, an aquatics center and a community center, Stage said.

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