Whether it’s former residents moving back home or individuals deciding to move to town based on the ever-growing list of accolades recognizing the City of Delaware as one of the top places in the country to call home, people want to become Delawareans, and the growing population numbers prove it.
During the city’s annual “State of the City” presentation held Thursday at SourcePoint, City Manager R. Thomas Homan said Delaware’s population is expected to reach 40,000 by the end of the year and continue on an “upward trajectory.”
“We are looking at a population close to 50,000 by 2030, and that’s not too many years away,” he said. “One task City Council is going to have going forward this year is thinking about the growth of the city and how big do we want to become.
“To the extent that (the population growth) is a problem, it’s a good problem to have, but I would argue it’s not necessarily a problem.”
While Homan touched upon the need to plan for the expected growth of approximately 10,000 additional residents over the next decade, Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle added the community must continue to work together to keep the city a thriving place where individuals want to live and parents want to raise their families.
Riggle said while she receives a lot of the compliments in regard to how great the city and downtown are, she continues to assure people the credit doesn’t go to her, but to the efforts of the entire community: city staff, county commissioners (assist the city on projects like the Sawmill Parkway extension), Main Street Delaware (success of the downtown area), and the businesses that choose to set up shop in Delaware.
“It’s our whole community that makes our city what we are today, and I’m so proud to be part of it and to be the face of Delaware,” she added.
Both Homan and Riggle noted the city also benefits from its location within ever-growing Delaware County and central Ohio.
“We are really blessed to be in a region that continues to grow and create jobs and opportunities,” Homan said. “We are happy to be part of that.”
Issues facing the city in 2018
In order to accommodate the growth expected within the city over the next decade, the “State of the City” address revealed that the focus this year will center on a new version of the city’s comprehensive plan as well as infrastructure improvements related to transportation.
Homan said the time has come for the city to update its comprehensive plan, which will take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete.
“The comprehensive plan is really kind of the blueprint on how we grow and develop,” he said. “We will be reaching out into the community to all of our partners and our residents to get feedback about how we grow and develop.”
As for addressing transportation infrastructure, Homan noted no conversation concerning the city is complete without the mention of one issue in particular — The Point (bottleneck at the U.S. Route 36/State Route 37 intersection).
The good news, he said, is the city has signed a contract with an engineering firm and continues to work toward securing additional funding to pay for the city’s remaining $6 million share of the $25 million project that will replace the railroad bridge at The Point with a new one that will allow for two lanes of traffic to pass under it in both directions.
“We don’t own the bridge,” Homan added. “If we want to improve what goes on underneath that bridge — the traffic — we have to pay for it.”
The current project outline shows 2023 as the anticipated completion date.
“Hopefully, all of us will still be here at the ribbon cutting,” Homan said.
In a related matter, Homan stated the East William Street Improvement Project will kick off in the coming months with the removal of trees along the roadway to allow for construction to take place in 2019.
“East William Street from Lake Street going all the way out to The Point is going to be improved to three lanes,” he said. “That’s an area where there are a lot of rear-end collisions, and it gets congested through there.”
In addition to creating a continuous center turn lane, the project will include the installation of a new pedestrian bridge — double the length of the current one that spans East William Street near Lake Street — to allow for the intersection to be widened.
Other items scheduled to be carried out this year include:
• Construction of Fire Station 304 at the northwest corner of the Cheshire Road/Glenn Parkway roundabout.
• Infrastructure improvements to serve the city’s growing southeast quadrant.
• A discussion centered around establishing a dedicated revenue stream for transportation-related infrastructure.
• The opportunity to continue developing the city’s Sister City Program which currently involves relationships with Baumholder, Germany, and Sakata, Japan.
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.
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