Although it will not be readily apparent at the site of Hilliard’s new community recreation and wellness center and campus on the south side of Scioto Darby Road and west of the future extension of Cosgray Road, work for the project will begin in 2022.
Hilliard voters in November approved a 0.5-percentage-point income-tax increase. The new tax rate will start being collected effective Jan. 1, and the resulting revenue will fund the center’s construction and other recreation and parks infrastructure and programs.
The turning of dirt to build the wellness campus from the ground will not commence until 2023, City Manager Michelle Crandall said.
However, gathering public input about the components of the wellness campus and desired programming and amenities will be a focus in 2022, according to David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.
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Early preparation for the recreation and wellness center and campus project will be one of several initiatives for Hilliard and its various departments in 2022.
Community engagement for city services will be a theme throughout the year, Crandall said.
“It will be a defining year for our residents to say what they want in the future and say what they want their community to look like,” Crandall said.
Beginning in early 2022, stream restoration “will be the first boots-on-the-ground project” for the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department, said Ed Merritt, director of the department.
The construction of stormwater sewers, design of athletics fields and trails and some road connections also are on the project list in 2022, Merritt said.
Other scheduled improvements related to recreation and parks include Father Rodric J. DiPietro Park, 3481 Davidson Road, adjacent to St. Brendan the Navigator Church, and Lakewood Park, one of the city’s pocket parks.
New restrooms and upgrades to baseball diamonds will be made at DiPietro Park, and new playground equipment will be constructed at Lakewood Park, Merritt said.
Other city leaders are planning to revisit the comprehensive plan that last was revised in 2011.
That process will last the entirety of 2022, said Assistant City Manager Dan Ralley.
“In approximately a year, recommendations from the 30-member steering committee comprised of Hilliard residents and stakeholders will be presented to City Council,” he said.
The recommendations are anticipated to include long-term plans for the city’s growth and redevelopment, as well as areas where changes might be necessary in the city’s codified ordinances to achieve the desired kinds of development, Ralley said.
Areas of focus are the Interstate 270 corridor and Old Hilliard, Ralley said.
Concerning public safety, Hilliard Division of Police Chief Eric Grile said he plans to retire by the end of 2022 and is expected to be succeeded by Deputy Chief Michael Woods, who was hired in 2021 with the intent to transition to police chief.
But before doing so, Grile said, he will oversee several initiatives that include the rollout of body-worn cameras.
The police division also will launch two new mental-health initiatives.
One will provide access to mental health for officers themselves, and the other will provide the ability to assess the mental health of people whom officers encounter, Grile said.
“We are finalizing a program (in 2022) where we will have mental-health professionals available to our officers 24-7 to help them assess the condition and the response to someone in a mental-health crisis,” he said.
The police division also will continue to advance its drone-flying program.
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“I am hopeful in 2022 that we can begin a beta program and present a package to the FAA” that would allow expanded use of drones, including flying a drone to a scene and providing surveillance ahead of officers arriving, Grile said.
A new local development initiative in 2022 includes the creation of an economic-development plan, with guidance from Boyette Strategic Advisors, whom the city has chosen to create the document, said David Meadows, Hilliard’s economic-development director.
The plan should be finalized by May, Meadows said.
The city also plans to hire an economic-development coordinator – a new position – to assist in implementing the plan, he said.
“The plan will recommend what kind of industries to target, what initiatives the city can utilize to attract new employers (and) be adaptive and responsive to a dynamic economy,” Meadows said.
Meanwhile, construction of another data-center complex for Amazon, approved last year, is expected to start in early 2022 on a 104-acre parcel on the north side of Scioto Darby Road between Cosgray and Leppert roads, Meadows said.
Related story:Hilliard council gives OK to set Grener land up for data center
Overall in 2022, Ball said, city leaders are hopeful things “will look more normal” in 2022 concerning special events, such as the annual Independence Day activities.
Crandall said officials want that to extend to city services, as well.
“We continued to deliver quality services (even during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic), and we want to continue that improvement of services (in 2022),” Crandall said.