Economic development, lower crime in Northwood last year

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Northwood last year set out to provide residents, businesses and students with examples of community reinvestment, vision and streamlined regulations, according to Northwood Mayor Ed Schimmel in his state of the city address.
        “We set in motion a community-generated vision to redevelop our largest eyesore, the abandoned Woodville Mall site, developed plans to improve Brentwood Park, and completely altered our regulations to stimulate new development opportunities along Woodville Road,” said Shimmel
        This year, the city began with another positive balance in revenues and income taxes, he noted.
         “While our income tax collections were only slightly improved last year, we brought in $900,000 more than we spent. Our reserve balance, which is close to $13 million, is at levels unlike other communities in Northwest Ohio,” said Schimmel.
Safety Services
        “Residents continue to see some of the safest times on record due to effective leadership and incremental investments,” said Schimmel.
        “Our community has witnessed its ninth year of declining crime largely due to investments made in our 26-member police department and the leadership of Chief Thomas Cairl, who truly understands the importance of early intervention and community policing,” said Schimmel. Traffic crashes were down by over 8 percent with no fatalities, and major crimes were down 17 percent from the previous year. 
        “Transparency is a benchmark of our policing efforts,” said Schimmel, noting that all of the dispatch logs and police reports, as well as neighborhood level crime data, can be accessed by going directly to the police department’s web page at
        The city’s 41-person strong Fire/EMS Department under the leadership of Fire Chief Joel Whitmore continued their progressive outreach efforts with residents and schools to decrease runs. “Even so,” said Schimmel, “the department responded to 1,085 calls for emergency service, an increase of 100 calls over the previous year.”
        The fire department continues to conduct proactive programs like “home fire safety assessments” that includes the installation of free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Department personnel also worked diligently in the classrooms to educate students on the many aspects of fire prevention, said Schimmel.
        “Our fire and EMS personnel continually strive to be the best in their profession, meeting, and many times exceeding, necessary training hours to make our community safer while providing round-the-clock fire and EMS staffing,” he said.
        The city completed close to $500,000 in road resurfacing projects, including Venice and Maryland Place between Andrus and Brentwood. Additional streets that were resurfaced include portions of Curtice and Drouillard roads.
        Brentwood Park saw the construction of a long awaited, mile-long eight-foot wide stone walking trail following the perimeter of the park, said Schimmel.
        Additionally, the foundation of the Brentwood Park Concession/Restroom facility was constructed late in 2019 funded by a $75,000 grant from a State of Ohio Capital Improvement grant. “This year will see the completion of the project,” said Shimmel. In addition to those park improvements, outfield fences were added to two adjacent ball diamonds.
Safety Study
        Major funds for a Safety Study were approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation for the Woodville Road Corridor to recommend solutions to promote safety and pedestrian connectivity.
        “This study is the first step in a proposed 2020-23 Woodville Road Upgrade Safety Improvement grant funded through ODOT,” said Schimmel.
        As in 2019, the fresh and improved face to Oregon Road continues to evolve as the city works with private property owners, TMACOG, ODOT, the Wood County Engineer, and Owens Community College to complete additional amenities to the corridor. In addition to economic development incentives to property owners, these elements include the demolition of decrepit properties and the restoration of others along with the completion of sidewalks and bike lanes along the road from Wales south to SR 795 and beyond, said Schimmel. Some of Wood County’s largest and most productive businesses are located along Oregon Road.
        “These improvements will allow residents and employees to move along the corridor more efficiently than ever before,” he said.
        He also noted the city’s continued relationship with Northwest Water and Sewer District in developing cost effective solutions in providing water and sewer services to residents.
Economic Development
        This year, the city will continue to be tactful in making neighborhood improvements and deploying economic development and planning tools, said Schimmel.
        “It’s my belief that economic development must begin at the neighborhood level because neighbors are the consumers and potential employees that employers look for. You can’t have the businesses we seek without thriving neighborhoods,” he said.
        Starting in 2018, several visioning sessions with the public honed a practical market-based vision for “The Enclave,” located at the former Woodville Mall property. The Enclave will be a mixed use development that will include a multitude of amenities, including a public park, walking trails and the city’s first “Main Street.”
        “This year, we will continue to see progress with the development of The Enclave,” said Schimmel. “This evolvement will include a final determination of financing options to construct a proposed road and sewer infrastructure. In addition, heavy marketing of the property will continue with developers in the residential and senior living markets,” he said.
Property maintenance
        Shimmel also noted the increased enforcement of the property maintenance code to fight blight in the city.
        “Our community cannot thrive unless our neighborhoods do. In 2019, the city invested over $3 million back into the neighborhoods with capital and general revenues,” said Schimmel. “Our property maintenance and vacant property ordinance is helping to address property blight and vacant buildings.”
        He called on residents to help the city improve the neighborhoods.
        “I am calling on every resident to assist us in revitalizing our neighborhoods. Your efforts to keep your property tidy, well maintained and report issues will promote the livability and desirability of Northwood, which will attract more housing and businesses over time,” he said.
Mall footprint
        “A major effort of my administration is to bring life and investment back to the former Woodville Mall footprint,” he said. “In the last two years, we began to take progressive, bold steps to rid our community of the hazardous eyesore. This year will see an aggressive continuation of that policy,” he said.
        The economic development tools the city created over the past few years , such as the Woodville Road Renewal and Façade grant program and the Community Reinvestment Area program, have helped with over $4 million  in property investments in the city, he said.
        He also noted other projects that were started or completed last year, including:
        The demolition of the former Speedway Gas Station on Oregon Road;
        The continuation of working with the Energy Special Improvement District allowing local businesses to tap into low interest financing for energy improvements;
        Seven business luncheons hosted by the city that were well attended by business leaders and stakeholders looking to improve the community.
        “As we advance into 2020, our businesses, property owners and investors will continue to be welcomed by a streamlined regulatory environment and incentive that can be authorized quicker than any community in the region. This month, new zoning regulations will be in place that will allow for projects located in certain areas along Woodville Road to be advanced in timeframes never yet seen before in the region,” said Schimmel.
        “My goal as we advance into 2020 is to develop even more economic development tools by creating a community improvement corporation and deploying tools like tax increment financing to pay for public infrastructure at  The Enclave,” he said.


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