Some 21o3 changes to bring longstanding improvement locally

December 30, 2013

Delaware County has seen many changes in 2013. The best among them are expected to be longstanding changes that will improve life in the county and/or the local economy in substantive ways.

Among the most significant and welcomed of those changes are the following:

• Delaware City Schools district voters approved a bond issue that will create additional space at most district buildings, to alleviate crowding and the need to conduct classes in trailers. Before the election, voters were told Hayes could grow by 20 to 26 classrooms, as well as Dempsey Middle School. Every elementary school also will see a growth of several classrooms: 13 projected at Carlisle, 12 at Schultz, 10 at Woodward, seven at Conger and six at Smith.

All the elementary schools are to be able to accommodate all-day kindergarten, bond revenue would address current safety hazards, more parking space will be added to most buildings and many buildings’ traffic routes would be reconfigured.

• The Fire Station 303, Delaware City’s newest, at 1320 W. Central Ave. opened for service on Sept. 26, and was officially dedicated on Oct. 19. The $2.4 million station was funded with the passage of a 2010 levy.

The station’s goal is to help the Fire Department reach a larger area of the city more quickly. Fire Chief John Donahue said the department wants to arrive at 90 percent of calls within six minutes. Odds of brain injury following a cardiac arrest, and odds of extensive fire damage in new homes and buildings, rise significantly after the six-minute mark.

The station houses a fire engine and an ambulance, and is staffed by three firemen at all times, and sometimes as many as five people.

One feature at the station is a yellow button that controls nearby traffic signals when there’s a call so that the vehicles can get to their destination quicker.

The same levy that paid for Station 303 will also fund equipment replacement, additional personnel and build a new station on Cheshire Road.

• The county gained 250 new jobs when a Cabela’s outdoor store opened at Polaris. Along with those jobs will come an estimated $1 million in sales tax revenue for the county, if the store’s sales are brisk and reach $80 million a year.

The store features a 6,000 gallon aquarium, a mountain replica with dozens of animal mounts, wildlife displays and hand painted murals of outdoor scenes. It covers 80,000 square feet, smaller than the 200,000 square feet of Cabela’s older stores.

For its efforts in attracting Cabela’s, Delaware County received a “Most Creative Deal Structure” award for its incentive package, presented at the 2012 awards gala of the Central Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

The county was able to lure the destination retailer to the Polaris area instead of a New Albany location in Licking County with the help of a $3 million forgivable loan, which county officials expect to recoup through sales tax revenue in three to four years.

Had a corporate center built at the Calbela’s site, county officials said, Columbus would have received the income tax and no direct tax income would be available for the county.

• Another 150 jobs were created when Menards opened a store on U.S. 23 north of Orange Road. The store is expected to generate up to $600,000 a year in sales-tax revenue.

The $7.5 million store covers 162,000 square feet with 21 acres used by the home improvement store. Menards was expected to spend $5.3-million on road improvements.

• In a development that seemed unattainable a few years ago, the Ohio Department of Transportation installed turn lanes on Ohio 315 at Powell Road. In recent years that intersection has been one of the county’s more considerable traffic bottlenecks.

The state was motivated to plan construction at the site to reduce the danger that one edge of 315 near Powell Road might collapse because of erosion along the Olentangy River’s embankments. Once that necessity became clear, ODOT engineers decided to study the feasibility of widening 315 as a collateral project.