Canal Winchester in 2021: City will tackle major construction work

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
Canal Winchester Mayor Mike Ebert stands outside the former McDorman Auto Museum, which the city plans to turn into its new hub of operations in 2021.

The city of Canal Winchester hopes to be in its new hub of operations by the end of 2021 as work continues to transform the former McDorman Auto Museum into a municipal building and community center. 

The move is one of several major projects city officials expect to tackle in the new year. Mayor Mike Ebert said the list includes the first phase of the long-awaited McGill Park and the fifth phase of Gender Road improvements. 

Also, Canal Winchester’s finances will enter 2021 in a strong position, despite the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with higher-than-expected income tax revenue of just over $7.7 million, city Finance Director Amanda Jackson reported Dec. 21 during City Council’s final meeting of the year. 

“COVID-19 did worry me a little bit, but we’ve come through this thing pretty darn good,” Ebert said. “We are fortunate that over the last couple of years, we’ve brought in new business and we still are bringing in new business.” 

During the summer of 2020, the city hired design-build contractor Lehman Daman Construction Services of Columbus to complete renovations on the former auto museum. 

“We gave them our ideas and our needs and our wishes, and they’ve taken that and translated it into a final floor plan,” said Bill Sims, city construction services administrator. 

The city closed on the property in February 2020, with a sale price of $2.4 million for the nearly 24,000-square foot structure. The building had been listed at $3.2 million. Bob McDorman, who operated a Chevrolet dealership in Canal Winchester for decades, opened the museum in 2014 and died a year later. 

City plans call for the municipal building at 36 S. High St. and Town Hall, 10 N. High St., to be repurposed for other needs, likely a new area for Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputies who are contracted to provide police services. 

In addition, the neighboring Frances Steube Community Center, built in the 1980s, would be demolished to make way for additional public parking, which has been a concern for residents. 

The community center on Trine Street will be moved to the new building, as will council chambers. Meetings are held in Town Hall, which has limited seating. 

The cost of renovations and demolishing the Frances Steube Community Center is expected to be about $4.1 million, Sims said.   

McGill Park  

Canal Winchester will receive state and federal grants totaling nearly $1 million so construction of the 90-acre, multipurpose McGill Park is expected to begin in 2021. 

The first part of the proposed three-phase project, with a $2.2 million price tag, includes building a main access drive, four soccer fields, a three-season shelter house and a natural playground area. 

The complete plan, with an estimated price tag of nearly $7 million, calls for seven full-size soccer fields and three half-size soccer fields, plus baseball and softball fields. An events center and amphitheater also are part of the site layout prepared by Columbus-based OHM Advisors, which developed a guide for the future of Canal Winchester's parks system. 

Gender Road improvements  

Canal Winchester will receive $1 million in Ohio Public Works Commission funding to help pay for further improvements to Gender Road in 2021. 

The $1.2 million phase 5 project is expected to begin in April, with completion set for October, Sims said. 

The improvements include adding turn lanes to northbound Gender Road at Winchester Boulevard and Canal Street  and signal upgrades at the Gender Road-Canal Street intersection, as well as relocating portions of the existing bike path away from Gender Road for safety. 

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