On a recent visit to what will be the new Winchester Canal municipal service hub, including a community center, Mayor Mike Ebert was eager to show off construction progress.
The red-painted office walls of the old McDorman Auto Museum on East Waterloo Street, where workers were carpeting and adding light fixtures just before Christmas. The planned move-in date is February, as Canal Winchester anticipates further progress in 2022.
“It’s really going to open up a lot more space for us,” said Ebert, who noted that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has delayed work and prevented the move in 2021.
The contractors have been working on renovations since city council voted in April to approve an ordinance authorizing a $ 4.06 million design-build contract with Ferguson Construction Co.
The city bought the former nearly 24,000 square foot museum in February 2020 for $ 2.4 million. Bob McDorman, who operated a Chevrolet dealership at Canal Winchester for decades, opened the museum in 2014 and died a year later.
Additional plans call for the Winchester Canal Municipal Building at 36 S. High St. and Town Hall at 10 N. High St. to be reallocated to other needs, possibly a new area for the Sheriff’s Office. Fairfield County which provides city policing services.
In addition, the neighboring Frances Steube community center, built in the 1980s, will be demolished to make way for more public parking, which is of concern to residents.
The Trine Street Community Center will move to the new building, as will the Council Chamber. Meetings are currently held at Town Hall, which has limited seating capacity.
City leaders expect the first phase of the 90-acre three-phase McGill Park along Lithopolis-Winchester Road to be completed this year, with a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for the spring.
“I’ve had so many people tell me we need a park like this,” Ebert said. “This is what we lacked, not only for the children but also for the families to visit. It was initially more than what I had dreamed of.
Much of what is planned for the first phase of the estimated $ 2.76 million project includes the main entrance, four soccer fields, a three-season refuge, basketball and pickleball fields, and a playground. natural play.
Turf soccer fields, however, will need time to grow and mature and will not be playable for a few growing seasons, Ebert said.
To help cover construction costs, the city received a federal grant of $ 500,000 for lands and conservation from the National Park Service and more than $ 500,000 in public donations.
City council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance in May allowing Ebert to enter into a contract with New Philadelphia-based Tucson Inc. to complete the park’s first phase.
The comprehensive plan for McGill Park includes seven full-size soccer fields and three half-size soccer fields, as well as baseball and softball fields.
An events center and amphitheater are also part of the site layout prepared by Columbus-based OHM Advisors, who have developed a guide to the future of the Winchester Canal park system.
Ebert expects design work for the second phase to begin this year.
“The good thing is that we have the infrastructure,” he said. “We have water, sewage and electricity and it was taking a long time. “
Amanda Jackson, the city’s chief financial officer, expects tax revenues to increase in 2022.
“We have been fortunate that our tax revenues have grown exponentially over the past few years, even during (the pandemic),” she said. “Income tax revenue is currently 18% above total (2020) revenue. … With the development that has taken place in the city, we expect to continue to see growth in our income tax revenues, which will allow us to pursue major capital projects without the need for debt or tax increase.
The city council adopted the 2022 budget in December, which includes nearly $ 11.3 million in general funds. About 25% of this spending is on employee benefits and salaries.