By Amanda Ensinger
A local township is moving forward with a project that will be a gateway to the community. At a recent board meeting, Prairie Township Administrator Rob Peters gave an update on the highly anticipated I-270 interchange project.
“We have submitted the plans to ODOT and it has approved the plans with the exception of the sculptures,” Peters said. “We are getting a bid package prepared and plan to go out to bid as soon as we have a partner meeting and ensure all the partner funding is in place.”
The West Broad Street and I-270 interchange project would improve the landscaping around the interchange. The project is a collaboration between Franklin Township, Prairie Township, Franklin County, Hollywood Casino, the city of Columbus, Weston Vision and Haydocy Buick.
It will include adding landscaping, LED lighting over the underpass and sculptures to the interchange. The annual maintenance of the interchange will cost between $30,000 and $60,000 a year and organizers are looking for eight partners to pay approximately $4,500 to $7,500 each per year for the next 20 years.
According to Peters, the township had hoped to have construction start in late fall.
However, they will not put the project out to bid until all funding is secured.
“We would like to get moving on this, but we can’t control the funds from other entities,” Peters said. “As soon as they provide their funds, we can get moving.”
The township also gave an update on the new director of the Prairie Township Community Center. Former Prairie Township Community Center Director James Gant resigned earlier this year to take a position as deputy director of the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department.
“When James resigned, the trustees opted to not fill his position and instead promote Prairie Township Facility Supervisor Michael Pollack to interim recreation director,” Peters said. “We then agreed to evaluate the operations of the center and make a recommendation to the trustees on how to proceed with filling the position.”
Gant’s salary before resigning was $89,000 a year and Pollack’s new salary as the interim recreation director is $79,000.
According to Peters, the trustees hope to finalize either Pollack in the position or determine if they will be hiring a new director by the first of the year.
In other news, the board gave an update on the ongoing conversations between the township, Franklin County and the city of Columbus to take over water service in the township.
“This is still ongoing and the township continues to work with Franklin County and the city of Columbus on this issue,” Peters said. “We hope to have some answers soon and be able to discuss publicly next steps.”
Recently, a study was conducted to see what the cost would be for Columbus to take over Franklin County sewer and water services. While the results have not been announced, leaders of these entities are looking at overall Franklin County sewer and water system, the improvements that need to be made and amount of people the currently use the system.
“We have an internal goal of transitioning water service in April 2020,” Peters said. “However, this is dependent on the county and city and them getting an agreement in place.”
Township residents receive their water and sewer service through Franklin County and have frequently reported high water bills.
“The water bills in Prairie Township are more than double what they are for the same home with the same water usage in Columbus,” said John Griffith, a landlord in Prairie Township.
“People live on fixed incomes in this community and a $400 or $500 water bill is devastating for them.”