Former Americana Amusement Park site on Monroe agenda for 2021

After spending the previous year constantly shifting gears and adjusting to the changing dynamics created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Monroe is hoping for a better 2021.

“Most of the city’s (2020) challenges dealt with COVID-19 and was a drag on city operations we normally accomplish,” said City Manager Bill Brock. “It was different day to day, week to week.

“We have a wonderful mix of businesses. When economic diversity is there, businesses remain strong.”

As 2021 begins, Monroe already has a number of projects on its plate and some that are nearing completion, such as the new comprehensive plan.

Brock said the city will also be working to identify housing needs and working with developers to address those needs.

Here’s a look at important initiatives for Monroe in 2021:

Monroe Bicentennial Commons

Brock said the Monroe Bicentennial Commons project is behind due to COVID-19 and some construction issues. However, he said the project should go out to bid in mid-January.

The project is transforming the former Americana Amusement Park on Ohio 4 into a multi-purpose community park.

New police facility

The finishing touches for the city’s new $5.7 million police facility are being completed, and it is expected to be open in early 2021. Monroe voters approved a 0.5% income tax increase dedicated for public safety in 2017.

Police are working out of the lower level of the Monroe City Building. Built in 1999, the 5,000 square-foot facility was designed to house 18 employees. The department currently has more than 40 employees as it continues to grow.

The former IGA supermarket building has been transformed into the new police facility on the west corner of Main Street and Carson Road, has 23,000 square feet with plenty of room to grow in the future.

Economic development

Brock said the new $55 million Kroger Ocado facility is expected to open in spring 2021 as the nation’s first-ever fully automated warehouse and customer fulfillment center.

The 335,000-square-foot facility at 6266 Hamilton Lebanon Road (Ohio 63) in Monroe is a collaboration between Kroger, America’s largest grocery retailer, and U.K.-based Ocado, one of the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailers. In November 2018, the they announced the first of 20 facilities with digital and robotic capabilities would be located in Monroe and would create 400 new jobs.

Another concern on Ohio 63 will be addressed as an additional lane widening is planned between American Way and Lawton Avenue.

New stores and an eatery have opened at the Cincinnati Premium Outlet mall. Plans are in the works for some new stores in 2021.

Civic engagement

“We have a lot of passionate people and our focus will be to engage them and get them involved on city committees,” Brock said. “We are working through different discussion issues to make Monroe better.”

At the Dec. 15 council meeting, several people were appointed to city boards and commissions. One of those commissions will help navigate the city‘s future and propose changes to the city charter. Any proposed changes would then go to voters for their approval later this year. There are also three council seats that are open in the 2021 general election in November.

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