Editor’s Note: On February 7, 2019, Karl R. Gebhardt, Chair of the Board of Trustees, gave the annual State of the Township speech. These are his remarks.
As Chairman of the Genoa Township Board of Trustees it is my pleasure to present the 2018 State of the Township –a reflection on 2018 and a little prospective look into 2019. Our Township continues to be a “Nice Place to Live”. The 21.5 square miles that comprises the Township is a mix of neighborhoods, individual homes along our roadways, commercial areas, undeveloped land, parks, trails, and Hoover Reservoir. Genoa Township should continue to be a place where anyone can feel at home.
2018 started out on a sad note when on February 10, 2018 Westerville Police Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli were shot and killed responding to a domestic violence call in Westerville. These senseless killings reminded all of us that even in a “Nice Place” like Westerville or Genoa Township, bad things happen to good people in good communities.
The Fiscal health of the Township continued to be good; but long-term fiscal management will be a top priority for the trustees and fiscal office, especially with our General Fund and the Road and Bridge Fund. The Township continued to utilize the Fiscal Advisory committee, Investment Committee, and Audit Committee to provide citizen input and oversight into the fiscal operations of the Township. The Township ended 2018 under budget. We will continue to stay focused on the over-all tax burden impacting the Township’s tax payers. The Township continued to provide transparency by posting our budget and monthly financials on the website and in the quarterly newsletters. All fiscal related meetings are open to the public and the Township continued to participate in the Ohio Open Checkbook where all Township expenditures can be seen on our website under the Fiscal program.
Administration: The Township beefed-up efforts to expand communications with our residents through the website, video storytelling, increased social media outreach, and our newsletter. The Township instituted a new branding program with a new logo which will be phased in and standardized across all departments. A new/updated Township map was published and distributed to all residents. Extra copies are available at the Township office. A new trash contract was approved with Rumpke, a new natural gas aggregation contract was put into place. The Administration building continues to be utilized for Red Cross Blood drives, senior health check-up in cooperation with the Delaware Department of Health, and the Township coordinated with the Health District on a mosquito fogging after a mosquito trap tested positive for West Nile Virus. To provide a safe space for our residents, a monitored internet sales area was established at the police station. Meetings were held with surrounding jurisdictions to improve communications and coordination on projects of mutual interest that could impact on Genoa Township. The Township also remembered the passing of Helen Barber the Townships longest serving trustee from 1988-2007.
Parks and Trails: The work of our Parks Advisory Committee wasgreatlyappreciated in 2018 as they continued to find ways to expand our recreation and open space programs. Jaycox Road Park opened for the first winter sledding season in 2018. Improvements to the hill and near-by area were made for the 2019 season. A cross-country skiing trail was also cleared in our continuing effort to make Jaycox Road Park a destination for winter activities. The Township events continued to attract larger crowds, so long as the weather cooperated. Two of the three scheduled movie nights were rained out, but we will try again this year. TheEaster Egg Hunt, Trick or Treat Village, National Night Out, neighborhood block parties and our Community Gardens continued to be popular. The Township partnered with the Ohio Sportsmen Alliance for our Fishing Day. In addition to providing fishing poles and equipment, the Alliance stocked Hilmar Lake with 350 lbs of live fish. To not only beautify Township parks, but also to save money on mowing –Township wildflower/no mow areas were expanded in select parks by 100%. We plan to continue to expand this program. The Parks Advisory Committee began conducting a review of each park to determine immediate and long-term capital and maintenance needs. A Little Free Library and construction of a new foot bridge was completed at Center Green Park.
Zoning and Development: Work continued in 2018 on the Township’s Zoning Resolution and Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Updates were made to the Zoning Resolution and harmonization of the Resolution and Plan were completed in early 2019. Approvals were given to Vinmar phase 4-5-6 and Hawks Nest at Highland Lakes residential developments. A citizen’s referendum reversed the Trustee’s approval of the Ravines at Hoover. A lawsuit has been filed against the Township as a result. Harris Automotive constructed a new building on Maxtown Road east of their former location,we appreciate them staying in the Township. Kroger completed a major expansion as part of the multimillion-dollar Northgate Center renovation which included additional businesses.
Roads –Bridges –Maintenance: The Township currently maintains 90 miles of roads including bridges, culverts and storm sewers, right of way maintenance, easement maintenance, buildings and grounds at our facilities, parks and trails. Improvements to the road infrastructure in and around the Township continued at a fast pace in 2018: Franklin Co completed a new round-about on Smothers Road on the east side of Hoover, Westerville installed a median on Maxtown Road, Delaware County began preliminary work on the improvements to Old 3 C Highway; added a traffic signal at Worthington Road and Highland Lakes. Genoa Township resurfaced CharMar Drive, Sugar Maple, and Indian Court. Trails were resealed and cracks filled. The Township continued to address drainage issues throughout the Township with major work completed on Paul and Charles Roads. Replacement of ADA compliant ramps and replacement of storm sewer grates continued throughout the Township’s neighborhoods. The Township partnered with the City of Columbus and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on a new boat ramp at the Oxbow Road Access. The work included repaving of Oxbow Road. The Township will be evaluating a Road and Bridge levy for the November ballot. A citizen’s committee will be formed to evaluate needs and propose a levy to the Trustees by early summer.
Safety Services: Genoa Township residents showed their support for our Police with the passage of a bond levy to build a much-needed Police station at Big Walnut and State Route 3. Construction is to begin in 2019. The Trustees continued to advocate for Township based firefighter/EMS provided service. We will continue to monitor the situation in Liberty Township due to the fact that it could have ramifications on any negotiations with the County for a service agreement that could financially benefit the Township’s taxpayers. Police and Fire expanded their community involvement through neighborhood events, parades and block parties, Coffee with a Cop, “Cram a Cruiser” events at Kroger, and Christmas gift collection by the Fire Department. Mt Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital presented the Fire Department with a Cardiac Care Award for their life saving service. The Township received a $10,000 Bureau of Worker’s Compensation grant to purchase a washer/extractor reducing firefighter exposure to carcinogens. The Police Department and Fire Departments each presented 10 commendations to Township police officers and firefighters for life saving activities involving Township residents.
In closing – yes, Genoa Township absolutely continues to be “A Nice Place to Live”– and the overall the state of the Township is good. Our residents like living here and others want to live here. The staff and Trustees understand we still have issues that need attention in 2019 and beyond. Our obligation and commitment to the residents in 2019 will be: follow the law in how the public’s business is conducted, continue to properly manage and stretch your tax dollar, achieve meaningful goals that benefit the residents, take pride in public service, be accountable for job we do, and finally, anticipate and aggressively implement ways to make Genoa Township an even better place to live in 2019 and beyond.