Grandview Heights in 2021: City taking 'first steps' in planning new municipal campus

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Grandview Heights firefighter/medic Anthony Busellato (left) tests the chain saw that's part of the equipment for Engine 51 on Dec. 18 while firefighter/medic Robert Stults looks on at the Grandview Heights Division of Fire, 1016 Grandview Ave. Busellato said firefighters test the saw, which is used primarily to cut tree limbs and other items that serve as obstacles in fire or rescue service, weekly.

It's way too soon for Grandview Heights police, fire and administrative staff to begin looking for moving boxes, but 2021 will see the city begin the process of developing a plan for a new municipal complex.

"There's been a lot of discussion over the years about the need for a new municipal complex," Mayor Greta Kearns said. "It's really exciting to finally be at a point where we can begin to make progress toward that goal."

City Council on Dec. 7 approved a $60,000 contract with CTL Engineering to conduct site evaluation work for the city-owned property on the southeast corner of Grandview Avenue and Goodale Boulevard.

"This is the first step in our plan to build a new municipal campus on that site," Kearns said. "It's a long process, but it begins with this work CTL is doing for us."

The new complex likely would include a new fire station, police department headquarters and administrative offices.

CTL will complete a site survey, soil borings, environmental site assessment and hazardous-materials assessment of the Grandview Center and former service building at Grandview and Goodale and the current municipal building at 1016 Grandview Avenue, she said.

The company is expected to complete its site evaluation work by the end of January, Kearns said.

The Grandview-Goodale site was identified in the city's Spaces and Places community plan as the recommended spot for a new municipal complex, council president Emily Keeler said.

"We're looking forward to working further to implement the recommendations that were made in the Spaces and Places study," she said.

CTL's work will help evaluate the size and scope of a municipal complex the parcel at Grandview and Goodale would be able to accommodate, Kearns said.

The next step in the process would involve determining the cost of building a municipal campus at the site and potential funding options, she said.

"Then we would be ready to move into the design-development phase," Kearns said.

The municipal campus project would "give us an opportunity to provide the top-notch facility we need for our police and fire departments and administrative teams," Keeler said. 

Along with the municipal project, she said, the city also will address issues related to commercial developments, including the mixed-use Grandview Crossing project that straddles a portion of both Grandview and Columbus near Dublin Road and a proposed redevelopment of properties to extend the Grandview Yard development south of the current Yard project area on Goodale.

Kearns moved from council president to mayor in 2021 after running for and being elected in November 2019 to her new office.

She wasn't the only new administrator in the city, as several positions, including police and fire chiefs, turned over due to retirements or people taking new roles in the city. 

Kearns also created new or revised positions soon after becoming mayor, including a strategic and engagement officer, director of operations/chief of staff and IT director.

The IT director position helped with the redesign of the city's website, which went live in November.

"We've improved the usability and accessibility of the website and added some new features, including a translation tool," Kearns said. "One of the things we've concentrated on this past year was enhancing our communication with our residents, and the new website is part of that effort."

Technology is being used increasingly across all city departments to keep residents informed and provide a greater level of service, she said.

"It's been a unique year with challenges because of the pandemic that no one anticipated, but the commitment to service isn't something we've allowed to drop off," Kearns said. 

City Council on Dec. 21 approved an ordinance to create another new position – director of planning and community development. 

The position will replace the administrative secretary position that has been vacant due to a retirement, Kearns said.

"The new position will have more of an administrative role than the old position did," she said. 

The director of planning, who will be appointed by the mayor with the concurrence of council, will be responsible for implementing the city's comprehensive plan, overseeing the related short- and long-term planning, land-use and zoning activities and the development, coordination and implementation of the city's residential, commercial and industrial development efforts and projects.

The arrival of the pandemic in March resulted in some projects that had been planned for 2020 to be delayed, Kearns said.

Many of those projects will be completed in 2021, including improvements to the water lines on Lincoln Road north of Third Avenue and improvements to the concession stand at McKinley Field, she said.

"The concession stand at McKinley is sorely in need of an upgrade," Kearns said. 

The building has no running water and no restrooms, she said.

The upcoming project, slated to cost about $350,000, will add two restrooms to the north side of the building and a storage area.

As the new year began, all indoor parks and recreation activities were suspended because of rising COVID numbers in the community.

City officials will continue to monitor the situation to determine when indoor activities could be held again, Kearns said.

"We're all anxious to get those going again, and we're also hopeful we'll be able to reopen the pool for the season this year," she said.

The city last year canceled the entire municipal pool season, which traditionally begins Memorial Day weekend.

"We'll have to make the decision by April as to whether we can open on time," Kearns said. "It takes a lot more to get the pool ready than just turning on the water and filling the pool. You have to get lifeguards hired and trained."

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