When Mary Turner-Stoots travels East Main Street from Reynoldsburg's western boundary through Olde Reynoldsburg and beyond, she sees the city's past, present and future.
Turner-Stoots, 67, grew up in Reynoldsburg and is now president of the Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society. She said it's exciting to see the city adapt as millions of dollars in public and private projects are reshaping Main Street.
Turner-Stoots said she grew up playing in the creeks, fields and a quarry that is now Pine Quarry Park.
"At one point in the mid- to late 1950s, Reynoldsburg was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country," she said.
Nearby industries attracted workers looking for good homes and schools and the place that "once stopped at Blacklick Creek" delivered, Turner-Stoots said, building several elementary schools, a high school and new homes.
"It was nothing but fields out there until you got to Whitehall. I have pictures of Lancaster Avenue as a dirt road," Turner-Stoots said. "If you wanted to go to McDonald's, you had to go to Hamilton Road."
Just a few decades ago, she said, many of her neighbors bought produce at a farm stand near the corner of Jackson and Main streets or from her grandfather's Wiswell Market, now an apparel store on Main Street.
The future for Reynoldsburg will include a new comprehensive plan for development approved by Reynoldsburg City Council earlier this year; a rewrite of the city's zoning code, which hasn't been updated since the 1960s; and -- most visible -- three major projects in various stages of construction: a new community center on Davidson Drive, a new Kroger store at East Main Street and Rosehill Road and a new Truro Township fire station, also on East Main Street.
A new community center YMCA is rising on a site that was once home to a swimming pool and roller rink on Davidson Drive adjacent to Huber Park and the Reynoldsburg Senior Center.
The $25 million community center is a partnership between the city and the YMCA. OhioHealth also will lease about 13,000 square feet of space for primary-care physicians.
The major structural components of the 70,000-square-foot building are done, as are parts of the roof. The first shipment of window glass has been delivered and much of the concrete and brick work is underway, according to public-services director Bill Sampson.
The two-story building will include community rooms, a fitness center, gymnasium, indoor track and offices. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools are also planned.
Voters in 2017 approved raising the city's income tax rate to 2.5% as a way to generate an additional $6.5 million for the community center and infrastructure needs.
More than two dozen Reynoldsburg High School students already have been hired by the YMCA to work as lifeguards at the center's pools. They are training and working at the Jerry L. Garver and Gahanna YMCA locations, Sampson said.
The YMCA expects to begin hiring 100 to 150 employees for the Reynoldsburg location this fall, he said.
After a series of weather and contractor delays, construction continues on Truro Township's Fire Station 161, slated to open later this year at 6900 E. Main St.
"The brick work is going on, the roof is going on over the apparatus bay and the windows are going in," fire Chief Jeff Sharps said.
Work was delayed in February after the project's general contractor, Palmetto Construction LLC, "voluntarily defaulted" on its contract to build the $3.9 million station.
A letter to the township signed by Casey Cusack and Jerry Diodore, both principals in the Columbus-based company, said Palmetto was unable to finish construction but did not say why.
The Ohio Farmers Insurance Co./Westfield Group, the project's surety bonding company, took over earlier this year and hired back most of the original subcontractors, Sharps said.
Because of the surety bond, the delay is not expected to increase construction costs, township officials said.
The township holds weekly meetings on construction progress.
"Our focus is getting it done and making sure it's done right," Sharps said. "We continue to remind the insurance company of the importance of this project for the community. The trustees and I are committed to making this happen as quickly as possible."
Once complete, the 16,471-square-foot station will have three bays and living quarters for up to 11 firefighters per shift, a training room and more than 700 square feet of office space.
The new Station 161 is being built on the site of the old station, which originally opened in 1965 as a J-Mart retail store.
The Kroger Co. is on track to open a new store on about 16 acres on East Main Street at Rosehill Road this November. An accompanying gas station opened late last year.
When the new store opens, an existing Kroger at 6962 E. Main St. in the Reynoldsburg Shopping Center will close. That store is half the size of the new location.
Reynoldsburg development director Andrew Bowsher said the city is working with Arshot Development, the property-management company for shopping center. The city's new comprehensive plan calls for a mix of commercial businesses in that area, with the possibility of senior or multifamily housing at the rear of the site.
A new traffic light will be installed on Main Street near the new Kroger store, in late summer, Bowsher said.
It will be paid for using funds from a tax-increment-financing agreement enacted on the Kroger property. A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.
Bowsher said he expects development plans for about 14 acres across from the new Kroger site to be filed soon.
Work also continues to transform a vacant lot at Lancaster Avenue and East Main Street into a free, 40-space parking area. Crews are working to add bike racks, public picnic areas and an overlook area with views of the adjacent Blacklick Creek.
The $1 million project is part of an effort to make the Olde Reynoldsburg area more walkable and easier to visit, Bowsher said.
The city plans to spend $4 million on streets and sewers this year, including the installation of a modified traffic signal at East Main and Jackson streets and a designated turn lane from southbound Taylor Road to westbound East Main Street, in an effort to help traffic flow.
Turner-Stoots, who said her family's roots in Reynoldsburg date to the 1800s, often speaks to schoolchildren about the area's history. She said she hopes officials would consider community input in the city's revitalization plans -- and she has some suggestions.
"I'd love to see an art gallery come to our town, and I try to advocate for activities that will bring people out and learn about their heritage," she said. "People don't realize how much history is here. Reynoldsburg has a lot to offer.
"Is there a lot more they can offer? Yes. And I think we'll get there."