Making improvements in Prairie Township

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

In an effort to continue to make Prairie Township more appealing to residents and businesses, the trustees approved several new measures to improve the township at a recent meeting.

The board held a special meeting recently to discuss the new zoning on the West Broad Street corridor overlay project.

The trustees unanimously approved the new district, setting strict regulations on new builds in the region, as well as if businesses tear down their existing locations and rebuild.

“This is meant to create a design standard for placement and appearance of buildings along West Broad Street,” said Tracy Hatmaker, township administrator. “This will up the quality of the buildings, encourage buildings to be placed up closer to the street and create landscaping to make the corridor more walkable.”

Hatmaker said that new buildings constructed on the corridor must be closer to the street and businesses who tear down their currently buildings and rebuild would have to follow these new standards. Businesses on the corridor will not be forced to tear down and rebuild to meet these standards.

“Parking lots also will be on the side or the rear of the buildings, so there isn’t a giant parking lot in front of the buildings,” Hatmaker added. “We want the area to be more walkable and this is a way to accomplish that.”

At the regular meeting, the board also focused on improvement efforts in the township, including ways to improve the community center. Among the items discussed was ways to retain lifeguards.

The board approved increasing the lifeguard pay from between $8.70 to $11 an hour to $9.20 to $11.50 an hour, giving new and existing lifeguards approximately a 50 -cent raise.

“Keeping lifeguards is very competitive and it is a hard job to do,” said James Gant, director of the community center. “In order to remain competitive with other facilities we need to offer them fair pay.”

Hatmaker added that currently the township’s lifeguards pay for their own certification, while other communities cover those expenses.

“There is a shortage of lifeguards and it is competitive market,” Hatmaker said. “We were paying our lifeguards the lowest on the west part of central Ohio, as well as having them pay their own certification. In order to stay competitive, we need to at least slightly increase their pay.”

According to township officials, as the hourly range increases for these part-time employees, they also need to stay competitive, so they don’t lost employees to other part-time jobs outside of lifeguarding that pay more.

Finally, the board agreed to move forward with setting up the township’s Community Foundation. According to Gant, this foundation was a result of recent community meetings the township hosted.

“After having these meetings, we decided it would be good to have a board that could help us move forward and execute some of the projects residents would like to see in our community,” Gant said.

Hatmaker added that this board would be responsible for fundraising and identifying projects that will enhance the area.

“The trustees approved $10,000 in seed money to start the foundation, but the board will be raising funds to execute projects,” Hatmaker said. “The board also will oversee the funds and identify projects.”

Among the projects the board could start fundraising for includes putting a special facility in the new sport complex or adding facilities to the community center.

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