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.”

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.

Council to hold a Public Hearing on Land Use Plan

City Council will hold a Public Hearing on Monday, August 5, 2019, at 7 pm to allow for public comments on ORD-0081-2019- An Ordinance Adopting the City of Gahanna Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

The meeting will take place at City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road.

For more information about these meetings, contact the Council Clerk’s Office at 614.342.4090.  To connect with your Council Member, click here.

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.

Gahanna Among Those Communities Recognized by MORPC for Leading on Sustainability

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has certified five local governments as the first set of Sustainable2050 communities to achieve an elevated status for their actions to promote sustainability.

Sustainable2050 is a program that supports communities’ sustainability efforts through direct technical assistance, collaboration, and recognition. Each member’s tier status is determined by the number of eligible activities it carries out in five categories corresponding to MORPC’s Regional Sustainability Agenda.

“These communities are dedicated to improving the quality of life of their residents in sustainable ways, and that should be celebrated,” MORPC Planning & Environment Director Kerstin Carr said. “Through Sustainable2050, we are not only recognizing their commitment to sustainability but ultimately assisting them, through access to resources, to do even more.”

Dublin, Gahanna, Genoa Township, Lockbourne, and Upper Arlington comprise the first five certified Sustainable2050 members, with each being designated as Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum status.

The City of Dublin completed 48 eligible activities across five categories, achieving the Platinum designation. Highlights from Dublin include:

  • A commitment to energy through its efforts to increase the percentage of fleet vehicles using alternative fuels
  • Efforts to minimize greenfield development through its innovative code and master plan for the Bridge Street District
  • A Green Purchasing Policy in place since 1998 to increase economic opportunity
  • The Dublin Bikeway Plan that was recognized as a tool the city uses to serve a higher number of residents and workers

The City of Gahanna completed 14 eligible activities in four categories, achieving the Silver designation. Highlights from Gahanna include:

  • Collaboration with private partners to host public alternative fuel stations
  • An innovative stormwater credit incentive that encourages implementation of green stormwater infrastructure and reduction of peak flow runoff

Genoa Township completed 16 eligible activities in four categories, achieving the Silver designation. Highlights from Genoa Township include:

  • Spreading the word about air quality, and promoting behavior change among its staff on Air Quality Alert days
  • A commitment to Sustainable Neighborhoods by prioritizing maintenance and improvements to its multipurpose trails such as the Genoa Trail, which is a Central Ohio Greenways route and part of the Ohio to Erie Trail.

The Village of Lockbourne completed 17 eligible activities in five categories, achieving the Silver designation. Highlights from Lockbourne include:

  • Actively reaching out to the community with information and education for its residents on air quality via social media and its Village View newsletter
  • Preserving sustainable neighborhoods by promoting available home weatherization services and programs to its residents

The City of Upper Arlington completed 43 eligible activities across five categories, achieving the Platinum designation. Highlights from Upper Arlington include:

  • A commitment to reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled, in part through its Complete Streets policy. It is one of only a handful of Central Ohio communities to have officially adopted a policy; theirs has been in place since 2014.
  • A zoning code and master plan that focus on infill opportunities, which help the city to minimize greenfield development
  • Promoting the Green Spot program, helping to increase the number of businesses and homes that carry out their own sustainability practices
  • A commitment to Sustainable Neighborhoods by prioritizing the number of people and jobs it serves through its bike and pedestrian infrastructure. The Upper Arlington bikeways continue to expand, removing bike and pedestrian network gaps within the community.

More than 30 local communities committed to work toward more sustainable practices through MORPC’s Sustainable2050 initiative, meaning more communities will be certified in the near future.

Additional information on the Sustainable2050 program can be found at morpc.org/sustainable2050.

 

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.

Take the PUP Pledge and Help Us Protect Our Waterways

Did you know that during rain events, dog poop left on the ground can wash away through the sewer systems and end up in our lakes and rivers, polluting our freshwater supplies? The water that goes through these storm sewer systems is not treated, so what goes into a drain exits into our waterways.

The City of Gahanna is partnering with the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District to help protect our waterways through its PUP campaign.  The Pick Up Poop (PUP) campaign encourages residents to clean up after their pets to protect our waterways and promote a healthy community.  To help keep our waterways safe, visit our Stormwater Management page to watch a short video about the initiative and do your part by taking the Gahanna PUP Pledge!

 

Report a Pothole

The City of Gahanna is responsible for maintaining residential streets, and portions of major arterials. To report a pothole or damage on a city-maintained roadway click here. You may also contact the Department of Public Service & Engineering at 614.342.4005.