Fairfield city, township continue to build toward the future in 2020: What to know

Gilmore Road in front of fire station 212, pictured, is expected to be widened in 2020. Also, a new township service department building is planned to be constructed next to the new station. ED RICHTER/FILE
Gilmore Road in front of fire station 212, pictured, is expected to be widened in 2020. Also, a new township service department building is planned to be constructed next to the new station. ED RICHTER/FILE

The future was a major theme for Fairfield city and township last year, and that will continue in 2020.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest issues coming up this year:

Fairfield

“We certainly want to make it easier for people to do business with the city,” said City Manager Mark Wendling. “I think that enhances sustainability, but it does go to the mayor’s quality of life initiative as well.”

Mayor Steve Miller said a top quality of life focus in 2020 will be Harbin Park.

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The next phase of the Harbin Park redevelopment is constructing a new pavilion, which is an estimated $950,000 project, the mayor said. The city hopes funding assistance can come from the state’s 2020 capital budget, but regardless, a groundbreaking will happen this year, he said.

“It enhances the top of the park, and really, it could be a new revenue source for the city with people renting it out for events and weddings,” Miller said.

Also in 2020, Fairfield will look to start the perimeter trail project around Harbin Park, he said. It’s estimated to cost $400,000, but the city is also looking for state assistance for this project.

Harbin Park is Fairfield’s largest park property at around 230 acres. Redevelopment work on the park started a few years ago when it demolished a barn, storage shed and former ranger station. The project is to be phased in over several years as it’s expected to cost the city millions of dollars to complete.

Also this year, the Public Utilities Department will spend a collective $1.3 million on two projects that will address quality of life and sustainability. A $650,000 Homeward lift station project will be completed to help pump wastewater from the three schools off Holden Boulevard and North Gilmore Road, as well as the businesses along Port Union Road.

The other $650,000 project will paint the 1.5-million-gallon Seward Road water tank, which is expected to include the city’s new branding, an initiative that was studied last year with the results to be unveiled in March, Wendling said.

Other 2020 projects include wrapping up the Northern Ohio 4 Market Study, which Wendling said will help the city identify the best uses for vacant properties and addresses blight; an 18-month-long project to update the city’s zoning code will go out to bid later this year; and there will be a new income tax program to enable people to pay bills online and file local taxes. Wendling said the goal is to have that ready for the start of the 2021 tax season, but bill payments could be as early as the end of this year.

Fairfield Twp.

Trustees invested a lot in the township over the past few years, and the investment will continue in 2020 as they look to invest in the newly renamed Heroes Park, the police station, the Gilmore Road corridor and a new service department building.

“If you look at everything we did over the past two or three years, it’s just been a lot of heavy lifting and changing,” said Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer. “We’ve kind of gotten past the restructuring, but we’re still building toward the future.”

She said the township’s “very strong financial position” will allow for continual investments in planned 2020 projects.

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The Gilmore Road widening project will run from the new roundabout at Hamilton-Mason Road north to the Butler County Regional Highway overpass. Coupled with the roundabout project that wrapped up in November, Trustee Joe McAbee said the widening project would “encourage business development” along that corridor. Trustee Susan Berding said it would also make the road safer for emergency vehicles as fire station 212 relocated in the spring of 2019.

Next to the fire station is a plan for a much-needed new service department building, Berding said.

“We’ve been talking about it since I was appointed in 2016, but just because of other priorities and getting the fire station built, the service department (project) had been put on hold,” she said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully getting the quotes back and work that into the budget for 2020.”

Many vehicles and equipment used by the township’s service department are kept outside and not under cover, Hartkemeyer said, calling that scenario “inadequate for the needs of our growing community.”

The police department building is also inadequate for the growing township, she said. Berding calls the remodel “a big undertaking,” and trustees expect to receive quotes this year and recommendations from a criterium engineer.

“I don’t know all of this can happen in one year because it’s a lot of investment,” Berding said.

The Heroes Park project, which includes installing playground equipment and a veterans’ memorial, will cost hundreds of thousands to develop. The veterans’ memorial alone is expected to cost upwards of $325,000, which is why the township is seeking $218,000 in assistance from the state’s 2020 capital budget.

A vision plan was approved for the park last year, and Berding said the goal is to playground equipment that can be installed in the late spring.