Gahanna in 2021: Infrastructure improvements sit high on city's list of goals

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
The Taylor Station Road intersection at Claycraft and Research roads will become a roundabout.

Capital maintenance, economic-development strategic planning and a design update for Creekside Plaza are priorities for the city of Gahanna in 2021.

Grant Crawford, the city's director of public service and engineering, said his department is excited for a great year with some highly anticipated improvements.

Grant Crawford, Gahanna director of public service and engineering

“Some of these projects include another record-setting street program, design of a modern roundabout at Taylor Station Road and Claycraft/Research Road intersection and implementation of a sidewalk maintenance program,” he said. “The projects will result in significant improvements to aging infrastructure, pavement conditions, a reduction in traffic delays and improved public services to our residents. I am excited to see the results of these much-needed projects.”

Crawford said the installation of the roundabout at Taylor Station and Claycraft is expected to reduce delays and congestion. 

“Due to its proximity to the industrial zone, this change will alleviate traffic essential to many of our businesses in that area,” he said.

Crawford said the city expects to resurface nearly five miles and rebuild nearly one mile worth of streets

Carrin Wester, city communications manager, said the total street program cost is $4,954,160, and the design for the roundabout is budgeted at $150,000.

“We are continuing the process of catching up on the city's aging infrastructure,” Crawford said.

Updating strategies

Gahanna Mayor Laurie Jadwin said the city began the work of building a foundation that is focused on cost-effective, streamlined operations and enhanced customer service for residents and businesses throughout 2020. 

“As we continue that work in 2021, our efforts will expand to concentrate on economic development and strengthening Gahanna’s attractiveness for new business,” she said. “One of our initial projects will be to update the economic-development strategy plan that was produced in 2015.”

Laurie Jadwin, Gahanna mayor

Jadwin said much has changed since that plan originally was created over five years ago, including an income-tax rate change to 2.5% in 2019 that improved the overall financial future for the city. Still, the pandemic in 2020 now presents many unknowns for the foreseeable future. 

“In addition, the surrounding environment has changed greatly, as other communities are now aggressively pursuing development and jobs as the mid-Ohio region continues with its explosive growth,” she said. “An updated focus on the city’s approach to economic development will identify how we set our city apart in the development world and how Gahanna can best move forward to attract businesses and jobs, which, in turn, support our residents and bolster our existing business community.”  

Part of this project also will, by necessity, focus on identifying redevelopment strategies, according to Jadwin. 

“With limited developable land in Gahanna as compared to other communities, it is vitally important that we have an overall defined approach for redevelopment within our city,” she said. “If we truly want to attract businesses, we need to strategically pursue related development and projects that provide the amenities and resources businesses desire when evaluating potential locations.”

Creekside redevelopment

Creating a master redevelopment plan for the Creekside district also will be a priority in the coming year, Jadwin said.

“Even through the challenges of COVID, we have had a great deal of interest from the development and business communities regarding opportunities in our downtown area,” she said. “In order to ensure that we are able to attract the types of businesses and types of development that we want in that area, it is critical to have a defined vision for the district – one that not only identifies types of development but also addresses  infrastructure needs, such as sidewalks, streets and sewers.”

In response to strong community feedback over the past several years, she said, part of this project will include an overall design update for Creekside Plaza.  

“The need to address maintenance projects, such as replacing the brick pavers on the plaza, presents a chance to take a broader view of what is needed in the area,” she said.

Jadwin said the long-term vision for Creekside always has been and remains that the park and plaza be the main “heartbeat” for the city – a place of vibrancy and vitality where people want to gather, meet and spend time.  

“We have heard from residents consistently regarding the need for more interactive components around the plaza and want to make this overall vision finally come to fruition,” she said.

Jadwin said many, if not all, of those projects would require public engagement. 

“We are looking forward to hearing from our residents and business owners about their vision for what the future of Gahanna looks like,” she said. “We all have a say, and we all play a part. Our goal in 2021 will be put all of these pieces together to identify our specific next steps forward in the future of our city.”

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla