By Linda Dillman
The city of Canal Winchester took a final step on Nov. 7 in creating a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area where people are not limited to imbibing inside the four walls of a bar or restaurant.
Following a public hearing and discussion during a work session, Canal Winchester City Council approved forwarding the city’s application to the state board of liquor control for approval of a DORA in Old Town Canal Winchester.
A DORA allows patrons to purchase a drink in a downtown bar or restaurant and walk around city streets within the boundaries of 21.6 acres bordered by High Street and Waterloo Street.
However, if an individual lives within the refreshment area, they are not allowed to carry alcoholic drinks from home. They must purchase drinks from a licensed establishment and only in plastic containers of 20 ounce or less.
According to Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire, once the city receives the go-ahead from the state and the system is in place next year, DORA sales are permitted Thursday through Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. There are no DORA sales Monday through Wednesday, except for Labor Day Monday.
Additional waste receptacles will be installed. Regular law enforcement patrols will ensure patrons are complying with the DORA and its boundaries. The city identified 21 locations delineating the borders where signage will be posted.
The DORA encompasses the Old Town area, which includes restaurants, boutique stores, financial institutions, professional services and miscellaneous retail. There are single-family residences within the refreshment area boundaries, but the DORA was specifically designed to contain key areas of business and retail establishments.
When residents were asked for suggestions in crafting the Old Town Plan, the highest priority they listed was to promote commercial growth. According to the DORA proposal, establishing a refreshment area can enhance entertainment options and help increase sales for existing restaurants and retailers.
CW gets $2 million grant
The city of Canal Winchester received a $2 million traffic safety grant towards the construction of Gender Road Phase VI.
Safety improvements include installing a sidewalk and reconfiguring the U.S. 33 ramp to facilitate pedestrian travel across the interchange. The complete project is estimated to cost $3.4 million.
This grant comes as Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Transportation Director Dr. Jack Marchbanks announced details on $121 million in new traffic safety projects planned for Ohio. The grants, awarded through ODOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program, will support 50 projects in 32 counties across the state.
“This is just the next step towards enhancing the Gender Road corridor,” said Canal Winchester Mayor Mike Ebert. “We have spent years reconfiguring the area to match the city’s growing needs. Previous phases improved pedestrian safety on the south end of Gender Road with new multi-use paths. Now we will be able to extend that across Route 33.”
City administration, with the assistance of contracted engineer firm EMH&T, applied for the grant in August. In addition to the safety improvements, construction plans also call for the addition of a dedicated turn lane from northbound Gender Road to the eastbound U.S. 33 ramp, and a dedicated turn lane from northbound Gender Road to a reconfigured westbound U.S. 33 ramp.
“This project will not only improve pedestrian safety for those crossing over U.S. 33 but will also improve traffic flow on northbound Gender Road with the addition of the turn lanes,” said Canal Winchester Public Service Director Matt Peoples.
Gender Road Phase VI design work will begin in 2023 with construction beginning in 2024.
Other CW news
•Canal Winchester Public Service Director Matt Peoples updated council on adopting Canal Winchester’s five year capital improvements/maintenance plan. In conjunction with Gender Road improvements, Peoples said the city was told it is on the receiving of a major grant from the state.
“We just found out today we were awarded a $2 million grant,” said Peoples. “Gender Road Phase VI is dependent on ODOT safety funds. It’s a $3 million project and it wouldn’t go without that funding. It is a very big deal with that project.”
•Peoples outlined the need for new positions within the city including the creation of a utilities assistant public service director and a streets, lands, buildings and parks assistant public service director, in addition to a technology technician position for the IT department.
“We’ll be reclassifying two superintendent positions to the new assistant public service position and fill the positions with existing staff,” Peoples assured council when asked if the new titles would create additional employee positions. “The technology technician is the only new employee coming in. The assistant director position is promotional.”
•Mayor Mike Ebert discussed another potential new position—a city administrator who would report to the mayor and be responsible for day-to-day city management, including directing and coordinating all city departments.
“The administrator is the person who’s really doing the work,” said Ebert, who felt the right candidate should have multiple years of experience in government. “If you have city government experience, that’s even better. When I got voted in (2007, before Canal Winchester became a city), I didn’t have any city government experience. I could tell that the first two to three years I was of no help to these guys. None.”
Councilwoman Jill Amos said most large cities employ an administrator and the mayor, who serves as the face of the city, is part-time.
Ebert said it is up to the council to set the salary range for the administrator. Peoples pointed out the assistant service director, technology technician and administrator positions were included in a 2023 budget previously presented by Finance Director Amanda Jackson.
Three other positions are also proposed, but are not included in funding for the upcoming year.
“It’s kind of staggering to think about seven new positions,” said Councilwoman Laurie Amick, “within the city’s payroll although only four would be filled in 2023.”