Guidelines for Curbside Collection of Leaves and Other Yard Waste

It’s that time of year to enjoy the fall colors in Gahanna’s beautiful parks and neighborhoods.  It’s also a time when residents can help pitch in to keep our streets clean and to prevent flooding by raking up fallen leaves and pine needles.  Proper disposal of leaves is through the City’s yard waste collection service that occurs every Monday.  Leaves need to be put in a paper bag, or container clearly marked as “Yard Waste,” and placed curbside prior to 6 a.m.  Yard waste stickers are available from the Water and Refuse Department in City Hall.  The weight of any yard waste container must not exceed 50 pounds.  Yard waste may also be dropped off in the yard waste dumpster located behind the Service Complex at 152 Oklahoma Ave.  Access to the dumpster is available Mon.-Fri. from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

As a reminder, the City of Gahanna does not provide curbside vacuuming of leaves and needles.  It is important that leaves and any other yard waste not be raked or blown into the street.  This helps prevent stormwater drains from becoming clogged.  It is a violation of City code (Codified Ordinance of the City of Gahanna 941.02) to intentionally rake or blow leaves into the street.  Below are best practices to keep in mind when disposing of leaves in order to protect water quality and the local infrastructure:

  • Keep leaves out of the street and away from storm drain inlets.  Leaves left in streets get blown by the wind and carried by rainwater to the nearest storm drain.  They form thick mats that prevent water from flowing into the stormwater system, which in turn, causes street flooding.
  • If you use a professional landscape company to maintain your yard, request that leaves blown off sidewalks or driveways are directed back into the yard and not into the street.
  • If you live along a ravine or stream, do not dump leaves over the edge.  The leaf piles will form thick mats that will not decompose over the winter.  The vegetation under the leaf piles will then die, leading to erosion of the ravine or stream bank.
  • Excessive leaves entering streams pose water quality concerns.  Bacteria use dissolved oxygen within the water to decompose organic matter.  Increased levels of organic matter from leaves result in depleted oxygen levels and consequently kill fish and other aquatic organisms.
  • Leaves can be added to a composting bin; however, other high nitrogen ingredients may be needed for optimum results (due to the high carbon to nitrogen ratio).
  • Leaves can be mulched with a lawn mower and left to decompose on the lawn.

Leaves can also be used as mulch around trees, shrubs, flower bushes and vegetable gardens.  They help impede the growth of weeds, retain soil moisture, maintain lower soil temperatures in the summer and protect against temperature fluctuations.  Leaves will eventually decompose, adding their nutrients to the soil and improve soil structure.

For more information, contact the City of Gahanna Water, Sewer & Refuse Division at 614-342-4440.

City of Gahanna and local writer team up to team up to capture stories of City employed Veterans

The City of Gahanna is teaming up with Gahanna writer Jef Benedetti to tell military stories of City employees who are veterans. The resulting video interviews and veteran information will become part of the Veterans History Project (VHP), which is run under the auspices of the U.S. Library of Congress.

The VHP website contains stories of veterans from all conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries and from all American military services. The veterans’ stories are submitted from a wide variety of sources including family members, students looking for a project involving veterans, and other interested parties.

In 2016, Benedetti a former City employee published a biography titled The Hundred Year Road Trip. In the biography, Benedetti tells the story about of his mother, Solange D’Hooghe, who was a gold and silver miner, a Women Airforce Service Pilot during World War II and was involved for 50 years in the startup and evolution of the commercial airline industry in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I recently began volunteering at the VA facility in Columbus and found out about the Veteran History Project. I had just completed Mom’s biography and was looking for another similar project. Finding veterans to tell their stories, I found out, starts at home. For me, that’s the City of Gahanna,” said Benedetti.

Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland, an Army veteran, is in support of the idea of highlighting City employees’ military service.

“I am proud to say that the City has a number of employees that are veterans and equally proud of everyone that has served in our armed forces,” said Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland. “When Jef introduced this project concept to us, we were very excited to partner with him on this initiative and look forward to seeing the end result.”

Participation in the Veterans History Project is voluntary for City staff. Eventually, stories will be collected from Gahanna veteran-residents.

The interviews and information Benedetti collects will be transmitted, unedited and sent to the Library of Congress, which then edits the videos and adds the information to its website: www.loc.gov/vets.
A small amount of paperwork is required before each interview, which lasts around 30 minutes. Benedetti said he hopes to start the interviews in the next 30 to 60 days. The location will be determined by the number of responses received.
To participate in this project or for more information contact Jef Benedetti at jefbenedetti@hotmail.com or 614.855.5678. To learn more about the Veteran History Project visit www.loc.gov/vets.

Gahanna Spotlight: Actions of City, residents can help pollinators

Original article featured in ThisWeek Community News

By Mayor Tom Kneeland

On April 7, 2017, I proclaimed Gahanna a Pollinator Community.

Since then, the efforts put forth by our Department of Parks & Recreation have allowed the city to achieve the status of Bee City USA — the first central Ohio city to receive this recognition. In the last three months, the city has also joined the National Wildlife Federation-Mayor’s Monarch Pledge and the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative, as well as celebrated our 28th year as a Tree City USA community.

Our parks division has made tremendous progress with several initiatives around the city, starting with removing invasive species such as honeysuckle, grapevine and privet that suppress the native species.

You may have seen the new planting bed behind Creekside Cafe which is now thriving with new native plants that provide crucial habitat for pollinators while controlling erosion. The wildflower prairies at Gahanna Woods are an all-year food source for a variety of pollinators including moths, birds, native bumblebees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

New micro-climate designs at the Geroux Herb Garden considered the soil, light and watering needs of the land and were paired with native plants and lesser-known herbs to reduce watering, provide for year-round food sources and color and, ultimately, require less maintenance.

Another initiative is the use of “low-mow zones” in Hannah, Friendship, Lower McCorkle, Gahanna Woods and Woodside Green Parks. Once established, the long-term benefits of these areas include stabilizing the soil to reduce erosion, slowing stormwater runoff and filtering pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides that would have otherwise entered the groundwater or streams.

Fiscal savings to our taxpayers include lower maintenance costs of our green space with fewer hours of labor, less fuel and equipment wear and tear and a decrease of herbicides and fertilizers to maintain those areas.

As a Gahanna resident, I am looking forward to putting pollinator-friendly practices to work in my own yard.

Here are a few tips for attracting pollinators to your garden and flower beds this fall and protecting pollinators during the coldest months of the year.

* Keep tall, ornamental grasses free-standing. Native bees and butterflies will shelter here.

* If you must cut tall grasses, consider “chop and drop.” This creates a natural mulch that will protect perennials and give shelter to pollinators.

* Rake leaves into your flower beds to add good nutrients to your soil as a natural fertilizer and to provide shelter for native pollinators.

* Create natural bird feeders by keeping the seed heads on flowers.

* Plant bulbs for springtime flowers before the first frost.

* Research what pollinators you want to attract in the spring and summer then plan changes to your garden or landscape accordingly.

* Consider native species of plants and avoid many popular invasive species such as purple loosestrife. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides alternative to Ohio’s top invasive plant species at ohiodnr.gov/ invasiveplants.

* Take advantage of upcoming programs such as the Earthy Herbal Garden Series or the Beekeeper’s Year at the Ohio Herb Education Center (ohioherbcenter.org) to learn more.

These initiatives are fun, productive and environmentally friendly and I encourage residents and businesses to look for similar ways to be eco-friendly and help our natural pollinators. Their world is shrinking as ours is growing.

To learn more about our pollinator-friendly initiatives contact the  Ohio Herb Education Center at 614.342.4380.

Gahanna inks deal with ExpressMed, Mount Carmel to run employee wellness clinic

Original story by Carrie Ghose, Columbus Business First

Gahanna is opening a primary care and wellness clinic for city employees inside a local urgent care center.

ExpressMed Urgent Care will provide scheduled primary care office visits starting in January its center at 445 Rocky Fork Blvd.

Under the agreement approved this week by City Council, Mount Carmel Health System will provide wellness education for city employees, operate a 24/7 nurse call center and collect and analyze the data to determine whether the program saves the health plan money.

The city will pay a fixed monthly cost for its insured members – $30 in 2018 and rising to $40 in year three. In return, it expects to pay fewer medical claims.

Gahanna is one of 10 Central Ohio municipalities that pool resources into a single self-funded health plan.

Employees get free preventative care visits and gain access to more health screenings and an on-site pharmacy. They can visit ExpressMed’s Hilliard and New Albany urgent cares, but can’t use those sites for scheduled appointments or health screenings.

ExpressMed was created in 2009 by Columbus parent HealthServe LLC, but has not expanded beyond its initial three locations. The Gahanna urgent care opened in 2014.

Whitehall opened a city employee wellness center in 2013 and has increased its budget every year. City school employees also can use it.

Thank you Byers Imports Team!

Earlier today, GRIN needed some assistance with moving some items from their current location to their new headquarters after the company they were initially working with were unable to fulfill their commitment.  Kevin King, general manager of Byers Imports and his team heard about the need and pitched in to help facilitate the move.  Please join us in thanking the Byers Imports team for coming in to help save the day for GRIN and for going the extra mile to help a neighbor in need!

New medical office development coming to Gahanna

Original story by Tristan Navera, Columbus Business First

Developers are planning an $8.1 million medical office building in Gahanna, and it’s already almost leased up.

The two-story, 32,700-square-foot medical professional building is envisioned for a four-acre plot at the intersection of Tech Center Drive and Buckles Court.

Termed the Walnut Creek Medical Office Building, it already has three commitments that will fill up 90 percent of its space, said Denny Freudeman, president of developer Hplex Solutions of Lewis Center.

“That location is really convenient for the Gahanna market,” Freudeman said. “There does appear to be a lot of demand, a lot of independent physician groups looking for expansion opportunities.”

Hplex worked with two major prospective tenants looking for new space — Dr. Stephen Smith, owner Smith Facial Plastics, a plastic surgery practice, and Dr. Steven Balaloski of WomanKind Health, an OB/GYN. Both will move into the new building.

Smith Facial Plastics is based at 5175 Morse Road in Gahanna, while WomanKind currently has its offices at 4030 Easton Station with satellite offices in Canal Winchester and Pickerington.

Another 25 percent of the space will be leased to Central Ohio Primary Care for a family practice. The Westerville-based group has two pediatric practices in the Gahanna area now.

With these main leases secured, the facility is 90 percent pre-leased, and the developers think it will be fully leased by the time the building opens in late October or early November 2018.

“Demand seems pretty solid right now. We try to size our buildings, we don’t like to build a lot of spec space,” Freudeman said. “These projects are very expensive, they are designed with HVAC and plumbing demands.”

Hplex develops medical office properties, and it’s behind the $12 million, 50,000-square-foot independent medical office next to the new Mount Carmel Grove City hospital, which landed its own anchor tenant in Orthopedic One. Overall, it has about four other medical offices under development around Ohio.

The land is owned by Andre Buckles of Columbus. Worthington-based Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. is the project’s engineer.

Companies Consider New Office Development in Gahanna

Original story by Tristan Navera, Columbus Business First

Three companies want to consolidate and put up an office building in Gahanna.

Gahanna City Council will vote Monday night on whether to sell the 4.4-acre, city-owned property at 785 Science Blvd. to the Gahanna Community Improvement Corp. for $300,000.

If the sale is approved, the improvement corporation would then sell it to the businesses for the same price and those companies would put up a 50,000-square-foot office building on the site.

The city also could offer a 15-year, 100 percent property tax abatement on the project, city documents show, as well as reimbursing $10,000 for site preparation costs and providing fiber-optic cables from the site to a nearby data center to help bring “better and cheaper technology services.”

A memo from the city notes that the companies are in engineering and software development. They would invest $6 million to buy the land and build and outfit the building, city documents show.

The developer is listed as Franklin Peak LLC, which state filings show was incorporated by Wil Schulze, founder and president of two companies: IJUS LLC, which now is based at 690 Taylor Road and works in engineering design, project management and other things; and Spida Software, which now is located at 560 Officenter Place and works in software, data management and consulting mainly for electronic and telecommunications providers.

A message was left with Schulze.

The project will retain 131 jobs in the city and allow the companies to continue to grow by 27 jobs over five years, with the average job bringing $66,207 in payroll, for a combined $10.5 million in annual payroll if completed.

The city says the three companies would vacate a combined 26,000 square feet of office space, which will mean “indirect” benefit once they are backfilled.

In return, the city will get $1.5 million in income tax and property sale revenue for the first 15 years, and then $3.4 million in income tax and Tax Increment Financing revenue for the next 15 years, it said.

City of Gahanna Among Top 10 Micro American Cities of the Future

The City of Gahanna has earned a spot among the Top 10 Micro American Cities of the Future by FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in its latest report, American Cities of the Future. The report contains a list of cities within North America that rank in the top 10 in various economic indicators including Overall, Economic Potential, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, Connectivity and Business Friendliness.

In addition to being awarded in the Overall category, the city was ranked 6th in Human Capital and Lifestyle categories and is among the Top 10 Micro American Cities for Connectivity.

Click here to read the full report.

City of Gahanna Launches New Dynamic Website

Redesign offers mobile responsiveness, personalization, and real-time data visualization

The City of Gahanna has launched a newly redesigned website to enhance the online experience for Gahanna’s residents, businesses, and visitors.  The new site is a trendsetter in using web personalization, shifting away from a static department-based layout. The site has improved functionality for a powerful and visually-enhanced layout design while providing real-time visual data about the city tailored to each visitors’ needs.  The current focus is responsive to users’ specific requests with fewer web clicks for easier access to Gahanna’s vast services.

Users can personalize their Gahanna experience by planning upcoming events, receiving individualized notifications on their street paving and trash pickup schedule, real-time traffic and construction alerts, and trip planning for transit usage around central Ohio. Other key features include real-time map & directions for places to go and things to do around Gahanna, as well as social media feeds to provide an interactive website that’s easier to navigate.

For over a year now, we’ve been working hard to enhance two-way communication, improve efficiency and strengthen our business attraction and retention efforts,” said Mayor Tom Kneeland, City of Gahanna. “Having a new responsive and data-driven website will not only help us in our efforts to attract visitors and prospective businesses to our city, but will allow us to provide our residents with resources, data, and information more readily about our city services.”

Redesigned by ZED Digital, a Gahanna-based business, the software, and digital marketing enterprise that specializes in responsive data-driven website design providing real-time data, search engine optimization, online lead generation and web personalization.  ZED Digital has created personalized data-driven website for such agencies like The Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, COTA, the Ohio Department of Transportation among other private and public sector entities.

“As a local business as well as a resident of Gahanna, it has been an honor to create a data-driven and personalized website for my community that provides meaningful information in a visually-appealing platform,” said Sumithra Jagannath, president of ZED Digital. “This will be the first municipal website in Ohio to provide personalized content for each resident, rather than a one-size-fits-all style. This platform will make Gahanna’s website a trendsetter among Government websites.”

Prior to the redesign, the site had not been updated since 2012.  The new website offers a consistent look and feel that aligns with the mission, vision, and core values of the City of Gahanna. The site will continue to build greater recognition for the city, improve search results and site rankings on Google and allow several language options for users to translate pages on the site.

For additional questions, contact City of Gahanna Public Information Manager, Níel Jurist at niel.jurist@gahanna.gov.

Residents Can Prevent Issues Related to Wildlife

Posted on 7/6/2017

Column originally featured in ThisWeek Community News on July 3, 2017

The police department and city officials often receive calls throughout the year about domestic and wild animal issues.

I am in a unique position in my day job as the chief of police and in my civilian capacity as a state licensed wild animal control operator, and therefore I would like to share some thoughts on common issues and solutions.

Your neighborhood provides the perfect environment to sustain, and in some cases, increase the population of wild animals. First, decks, sheds, overgrowth vegetation, big den trees and even storm water sewers provide shelter. Second, farmers and gardeners provide additional sustenance for animals and unsecured garbage becomes a food source. However, the number one suburban food source for wild animals is bird food.

If you have a bird feeder, you have an animal feeder. The spilled seed attracts mice, rats, squirrels, skunks, groundhogs, rabbits, raccoons, opossums and deer; these, in turn, attract foxes and coyotes. Life is a big circle and it happens around your bird feeders.

If you feed your pet outside, you are feeding wildlife. The exposure to secretions or excretions — such as saliva, urine or feces — provides the perfect way to spread a plethora of zoonotic disease organisms including fungal, bacterial, viral, parasitic, protozoal and other things such as fleas and ticks. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted between humans and animals.

Dennis Murphy

I spoke with a resident who feared that children might be exposed to wild animal diseases and at the top of her list were rabies, listeriosis and leptospirosis. In Ohio, the most common animals to have rabies are bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. Bats have been the only animal to test positive for rabies in Franklin County over the last 30 years.

The police are often called when nocturnal animals are seen during the day acting sick. Typically, it is raccoons with distemper requiring euthanization. People cannot contract distemper, but unvaccinated pets and other animals are susceptible to this highly contagious, and often fatal, disease.

According to veterinarians I have spoken with, the biggest health risks to people, especially children, is from feral cats.

There are individuals, who may or may not own the cats, who decide to feed and/or make litter boxes or shelters available. Regardless of the motivation or intent, Gahanna City Ordinance 505.09(b) states: “Any person, who allows any animal habitually to remain, be lodged, or fed within any dwelling, building, yard or enclosure, which he occupies or owns, shall be considered as harboring such animal.”

505.01(a) “No person shall own, have under his care or be in control of any domestic animal, including cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats, dogs, cats or poultry, which is at large in the city. If a domestic animal, as defined herein, is at large in the city, then the person who is the owner or who normally has care or control of the animal shall be deemed to have violated this section.”

As a homeowner, you should be concerned with free-ranging cats who decide to use your flower bed, garden or your children’s playground as a litter box. Exposure to contaminated sand or soil can increase the risk of contracting diseases spread by cats. These include bartonellosis (cat scratch disease), salmonellosis, cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, toxoplasmosis, ringworm and intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms.

In Gahanna, your police department is equipped to handle emergency situations where animals pose an immediate threat to people. We investigate and address violations of the law. We do not have an animal control officer and rely upon the Franklin County Dog Warden to handle all dog bites and loose dogs that we cannot catch. Franklin County does not handle cat or wild nuisance animal complaints.

We work closely with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which has regulatory authority over all wild animals in Ohio. They do not handle nuisance animal complaints but maintain a list of licensed wild animal control operators. These are private companies and are hired by the homeowner to provide a service.

Capital Area Humane Society will accept stray cats for a surrender fee.

So what can homeowners do to assist with this problem? You have several options to eliminate the conflict in the first place.

  • Remove all food sources.
  • Prevent access beneath your deck and sheds.
  • Install a chimney cap, cut back or lift the fringe of vegetation and trees.
  • Coordinate efforts with neighbors or homeowners associations.

Despite your best efforts, you may still experience problems. You can trap the problem critters, but Ohio law states that it shall be unlawful to fail to euthanize, or release on site, any nuisance raccoon, skunk, beaver, coyote, fox, or opossum that is captured, trapped or taken. By law, you can only release limited animals on the property of another with their permission. There are also laws on trap sizes, trap criteria, required tagging, species requirements and monitoring.

During my careers, I have witnessed far too many grievous wounds inflicted upon innocents by what many would describe as “harmless” animals. Similarly, I have seen an equal number of individuals who have contracted serious, and at times, life-threatening diseases from domestic and wild animals. We need to work together to prevent these senseless tragedies.