Utility improvements underway


Like its neighbors in Delaware County, the city of Westerville is adapting to changing conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing residents of the city are buzzing about is the utility bills that were due today. That’s because they all have zero balance due.

“Based on economic uncertainties associated with the spread of COVID-19, the city enacted this relief program to waive fees for the current month’s payment of electric, water, sanitation and trash/recycling,” Westerville’s website states. “The intent is to provide real and immediate relief and financial aid to our residents and businesses (i.e. utility customers) who have been harmed by the effects of this public health crisis.”

Those that are past due for February will still need to pay those charges, though.

In addition, the city notes, “The filing deadline for municipal income tax returns has been moved from April 15 to July 15, including any payments for taxes due from your 2019 return.”

The normally-bustling “Uptown” portion of Westerville along state Route 3 is still busy, but in two different ways. First, restaurants are still making food for pick up either curbside or at the bar. Second, a lot of utility work is being done.

“Construction related to the Uptown Improvement Project continues,” the city states. “Due to decreased business, pedestrian and traffic in the area, the city is accelerating construction activity, allowing the contractor to work Monday-Friday until 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

On April 9, the city’s council, boards, and commissions opted to conduct their meetings via video conferencing. Public comments for Tuesday’s Westerville City Council meeting were emailed to the clerk of council.

“Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and Gov. Mike DeWine have extended the Order to stay home unless you work for an essential business or are doing an essential activity through May 1,” states the city’s website.

Everyone is doing their part to keep residents informed, even on mundane matters. For example, Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi has used social media to let people know where they can get supplies such as cleaning wipes. Like Delaware, Westerville has a council-manager form of government (although Westerville’s council members are all at-large), and Cocuzzi is also one of the council members.

While the Community Center is closed, construction is continuing. “The expanded fitness and gym areas are nearing completion,” the city’s website states. “Construction crews are currently building the new warm water therapy pool on the east of the facility.” The Older Adult Center is also taking shape.

There are plenty of people and pets taking advantage of free time by being at the park. However, the social distancing guidelines have caused the city to pull the basketball hoops.

“#Westerville, we need your help to keep our parks and trails open,” the city’s website states. “We want the community to be able to safely pursue a healthy, active lifestyle, and right now, that means each and every one of us must practice safe social distancing when using the parks system.”

For more information on Westerville, which lies within both Delaware and Franklin counties, visit www.westerville.org.

A sign of the times in Westerville’s Alum Creek Park due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/04/web1_Alum-Creek-Park-in-Westerville.jpgA sign of the times in Westerville’s Alum Creek Park due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gary Budzak photos | The Gazette

Crews do utility work on state Route 3 in Uptown Westerville.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/04/web1_Uptown-utility-work-in-Westerville.jpgCrews do utility work on state Route 3 in Uptown Westerville. Gary Budzak photos | The Gazette

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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