Gahanna’s New Incentives, Development Plans Bear Fruit

Original story by Tristan Navera, Columbus Business First

In 16 months, the city of Gahanna has seen four commercial developments after years of little or no major commercial construction. City officials say that’s because of a long-term plan to promote commercial real estate development.

This week, a 262,500-square-foot speculative warehouse was announced is the largest new construction in Gahanna in 15 years. And the project – spearheaded by developer Fed One and property owner Value Recovery Group – will be the third largest structure in the city.

In 2016, Gahanna created a 10-year plan to promote diverse real estate development in the city. The plan included adding 800,000 square feet of industrial space and 700 more housing units, especially new apartments and senior housing – something residents want, said Anthony Jones, the city’s director of planning and development.

Part of that strategy involved a host of incentives formulated last year, including one for site preparation costs and another for assistance with annexation into Gahanna. Both are intended to ease the process for current landowners to redevelop their sites.

About 55 percent of the city’s land is residential, and of that, about 88 percent of the residential land is single-family homes. Most of the apartment stock in the city is at least 20 years old, Jones said.

“We need to have more options for this housing, and a plan will recognize what locations in the city are best suited to accommodate that,” he said.

Kenny McDonald, president and CEO of Columbus 2020, said suburbs play a role in spurring real estate development, which has gained importance as the population swells.

“We have to be more prepared than ever, physically, and only about a quarter of our cities have a land use plan,” McDonald said. “The population growth factor is more important than ever … because there’s a cocktail of factors that makes finding workforce harder than ever.”

There are challenges. For example, a tax increase intended in part to support infrastructure investments failed at the ballot last year. Mayor Tom Kneeland said it would be back on the ballot, “Not if, but when.”

State of the City to Take Place on March 14

Join Mayor Kneeland and the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce for their first joint State of the City Address on Thursday, March 14. This year’s event will take place at The Gahanna Sanctuary, 82 N. High Street. A meet and greet with the City administration, area businesses and community organizations will take place at 6 p.m., and the presentation will begin at 7 p.m.
The presentation will be an interview format. WBNS-10TV anchor and Gahanna Lincoln alumnus, Yolanda Harris will interview Mayor Kneeland. After the program, join us for a reception hosted by the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce featuring samples from a few restaurants participating in their annual Taste of Gahanna event which will take place this August. To RSVP, click on the flyer below.
For more information, contact the Mayor’s Office at mayors.office@gahanna.gov or call 614.342.4045. We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 State of the City!

Kneeland to Retire After 25 Years of Service to Gahanna

Yesterday, Mayor Tom Kneeland announced he would not be seeking re-election this November. Instead, he will retire at the end of his term to spend more quality time with his family.
“As mayor, I am pleased, humbled and overwhelmed at the progress we’ve made over the last few years to make our city a great place. For the past 25 years, I have proudly served the citizens of Gahanna from my leadership roles on city council to my position as mayor these last four years. I sincerely appreciate the support I have received from our residents and the business community.
Click here to read the full story in ThisWeek Community News.

Text-to-911 Now Available in Franklin County

After more than two years of work and cooperation between Franklin County and its jurisdictions, Franklin County residents can now send text messages to 911 dispatchers.

“Having been involved in this initiative since the 1980s I am very excited to see Text-to-911 come to fruition.  Thanks to the efforts of the Gahanna Division of Police Chief Spence, the MECC, Franklin County and all those involved in this initiative, I am pleased to report that Gahanna is now officially a wireless call center and will be handling wireline and wireless calls and also the new Text-t0-911 messages.  Having this new service offers another great option for those seeking assistance in emergency situations to get help when they need it the most. Although the Text-to-911 is now available, it is still important to emphasize to call if you can, but text if you can’t.”

This new service will greatly assist the deaf community, as well as those who may be in a domestic violence situation who are hiding or simply can’t make a phone call. Safety agencies throughout Franklin County collaborated to share 911 systems and develop partnerships to improve emergency service delivery for all Franklin County residents while simultaneously reducing implementation costs for the agencies. These agencies will be able to receive Text-to-911 texts either directly or via transfer – Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; the cities of Bexley, Columbus, Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Westerville, Whitehall and Worthington; the Dublin Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center (which also serves Upper Arlington and Hilliard); The Ohio State University and the John Glenn Columbus International Airport Police.

The 911 dispatchers in the agencies noted above will see Text-to-911 messages in a similar fashion to what shows up on a smart-phone text chain and have the ability to text back specific questions to the sender. With this in mind, agencies jointly developed pre-programmed responses aimed to address the text emergencies they receive and quickly ask for key information.

Text-to-911 works on cell phones, tablets and other devices with the capability of sending texts. Though the initial Text-to-911 rollout will not include the ability for texters to send pictures and videos, partners throughout Franklin County will keep working with individual agencies and expect this to happen at some point in the future. Text-to-911 service is subject to cell signal availability and not every text sent will be received – another reason why those attempting to contact 911 should call when they can and text when they can’t. In the event a text does not go through, the person attempting to use Text-to-911 will receive an automated bounce-back message indicating the text’s failure to be delivered.

“The ability for Franklin County’s public safety dispatching centers to accept and respond to text messages to 9-1-1 is the culmination of years of hard work by representatives from several communities’ public safety agencies and other stakeholders within the county.  It was truly a team effort to bring this emerging technology to our residents in order to provide another method in reaching 9-1-1 dispatchers when a voice call is not possible and seconds count.  The initiative behind ‘Text-to-911’ created a number of lasting partnerships and collaborative efforts that help reduce costs for the member communities as well as improve overall service delivery to the public.  We understand that there will be challenges now that text messaging to 9-1-1 is a reality in Franklin County and as its use occurs. When seconds count, we encourage everyone to call if you can, text if you can’t.”

To view a fact sheet about Text-to-911 click here.

For more information about the new Text-to-911 service, click here.

Columbus Neighborhoods: Big Walnut Country Club

Did you know that Gahanna was once home to the Big Walnut Country Club, one of the first African American country clubs in the nation? Established in the 1920s, this county club was a place African Americans could enjoy recreational activities such as golf, dinners, pageants, and conferences.  Thanks to research provided by the Gahanna Historical Society, interviews and information we have collected throughout the years, the city has been able to gain more insight into the Big Walnut Country Club.  Thanks to WOSU’s Columbus Neighborhoods, we’ve been able to share a bit of Gahanna history with their viewers.

Ohio Means Jobs to Host Meetings in Gahanna to Share Resources for Job Seekers

As part of Mayor Kneeland’s commitment to workforce development, the City will be promoting various events and activities to help connect Gahanna residents with resources and job opportunities. Ohio Means Jobs will be hosting informational meetings at the Gahanna Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 310 Granville St. From 9 – 11 am on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, February 5
  • Tuesday, March 5

The purpose of these meetings is to introduce Ohio Means Jobs services to job seekers throughout central Ohio.  No appointment is necessary and the services are FREE. As a resource, the library provides FREE access to its computers with Internet access and resume software.

For more information about these events, contact the Gahanna Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library at 614.645.2275. To learn about job opportunities in Gahanna and throughout central Ohio visit our workforce resource page.

Tax Revenue Presentation from January 7 Finance Committee Meeting

In the last decade or so Gahanna has faced the dual challenges of a maturing city hit with the second worst economic contraction on record. These challenges are not unique to Gahanna however what is unique is Gahanna has failed to adapt to this new normal. Where other cities have adjusted their tax rates, Gahanna has not. The city in most cases has less revenue per square mile and less revenue per capita to work with than surrounding cities. In order to cope with financial constraints, management has spent down reserves and deferred capital maintenance to critical levels.  The following slides illustrate this information and were presented by Council at the January 7 Committee Meeting:

Exhibit 1
Exhibit 2
Exhibit 3
Exhibit 4
Exhibit 5
Exhibit 6

For more information about this presentation, email council@gahanna.gov.

City of Gahanna Receives GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 5th Consecutive Year

Award presented to entities that meet the highest principles of governmental budget

For the fifth consecutive year, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has presented the City of Gahanna with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its 2018 budget.  The award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting and represents a significant achievement by the organization.

“This award affirms our continued commitment to being transparent and fiscally accountable to our taxpayers,” said Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland.” I commend our Finance Director, Joann Bury and her team for the great work they are doing to help us achieve these standards.”

In order to receive the budget award, the City of Gahanna had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.  These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as:

  • a policy document
  • a financial plan
  • an operations guide
  • a communications device

Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in all four categories, and in the fourteen mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.

When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual(s) or department designated as being primarily responsible for having achieved the award. This has been presented to the City of Gahanna Finance Department.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to produce a budget document that extends beyond the basic requirements for budget preparation,” said Finance Director Joann Bury. “It reflects our continued commitment to provide Council and other decision makers of the City with a document that conforms to best practices and guidelines established by the GFOA and National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting. This platform offers us the ability to feature pertinent information in one document allowing budgeting decisions to be made responsibly and effectively.”

There are more than 1,600 participants in the Budget Awards Program. The most recent Budget Award recipients, along with their corresponding budget documents, are posted quarterly on GFOA’s website.  Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

The Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional association servicing the needs of more than 19,000 appointed and elected local, state and provincial-level government officials and other finance practitioners.  To learn more about the GFOA, click here.

Notice of Public Hearings from Gahanna City Council

The community is invited to attend the upcoming public hearings on the following:

MR-0027-2018 TO PROVIDE PUBLIC NOTICE AND ESTABLISH THE SCHEDULE FOR LEGISLATIVE STEPS REQUIRED FOR THE AMENDMENT OF SECTION 161.081, CREDIT FOR TAX PAID TO ANOTHER MUNICIPALITY, OF CHAPTER 161, as follows:

JULY 23, 2018 (7 pm) – COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE DISCUSSION OF CREDIT ORDINANCE

AUGUST 6, 2018 (7 pm) – INTRODUCE DRAFT; FIRST PUBLIC HEARING

AUGUST 13, 2018 (6 pm) – SPECIAL MEETING; SECOND PUBLIC HEARING

AUGUST 13, 2018 (7 pm) – COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE; DISCUSSION OF ORDINANCE

AUGUST 20, 2018 (7 pm) – REGULAR MEETING; THIRD PUBLIC HEARING

AUGUST 27, 2018 (7 pm) – COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE; DISCUSSION OF ORDINANCE

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER COMMITTEES OF THE WHOLE – DISCUSSION OF ORDINANCE AS NEEDED

OCTOBER 22, 2018 (6 pm) – SPECIAL MEETING; SECOND READING TO CONSIDER ADOPTION OF ORDINANCE

 All meetings will take place in Council Chambers, Gahanna City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Rd., unless otherwise noted.  For more information, contact the Council Clerk’s Office at 614.342.4090

City Buzzing with Enthusiasm for Bee City Projects

Original story by Marla Kuhlman, ThisWeek Community News

The buzz around Gahanna is that the city is officially a “Bee City USA.”

Gahanna landed the status after city council voted to pursue the program that helps communities recognize the importance of pollinators.

Residents can expect to see a variety of initiatives, including the installation and maintenance of three active beehives within the city.

Additionally, the city plans to landscape the newly opened roundabouts on Hamilton Road Central to create pollinator habitats.

Mayor Tom Kneeland signed a proclamation making Gahanna a pollinator-friendly community last spring.

The Bee City USA status reaffirms the city’s commitment to help create pollinator-friendly habitats that ensure the survival of animal species, such as bees, which improve regional food production and stimulate the local economy.

“I’m excited about the progress we have made from becoming a pollinator-friendly community to the Bee City USA status,” Kneeland said. “I encourage residents to look for ways in their own yards to create a pollinator-friendly habitat.”

Bee City USA is a nonprofit national organization that encourages communities to sustain pollinators by providing them with a healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free or nearly free of pesticides.

Some of the installations include gardens at McCorkle Park, Creekside Park and Plaza, the Geroux Herb Garden at Gahanna City Hall, Gahanna Swimming Pool and Veterans Memorial Park.

“When researching community ecological initiatives, I found Gahanna’s current practices to meet or exceed the requirements,” said Shannon Barnette, horticulture coordinator for the Department of Parks and Recreation. “Our city parks and local wildlife can benefit greatly from our ongoing efforts.”

The certification Gahanna received includes a requirement to annually celebrate being a Bee City USA community through public-awareness activities, including a proclamation, signs and web links; with the expectation to annually report activities to Bee City USA to renew the certification.

Gahanna plans to annually celebrate National Pollinator Week during the third week of June.

More information about Bee City USA can be found at www.beecityusa.org.

To learn more about Gahanna’s pollinator initiatives, contact the Ohio Herb Education Center at 614-342-4380.