By Amanda Ensinger
Residents and visitors of Franklin and Prairie townships will soon have a new streetscape to welcome them to the communities.
At a recent Prairie Township meeting, the board discussed a verbal agreement they have made with Franklin Township related to the maintenance of the proposed streetscape.
“We have a verbal agreement with Franklin Township that they will maintain the streetscape in their township, and we will maintain the part of the streetscape that is in Prairie Township,” said Rob Peters, township administrator for Prairie Township.
The new West Broad Street and I-270 interchange project would improve the landscaping around that interchange. The project is a collaboration between Franklin Township, Prairie Township, Franklin County, Hollywood Casino, Columbus, Weston Vision and Haydocy.
The project will include adding landscaping, LED lighting over the underpass and sculptures to the interchange and is valued at around $900,000.
Previously, it was estimated that maintenance of the interchange would cost between $30,000 and $60,000 a year and organizers were looking for eight partners to pay approximately $4,500 to $7,500 each per year for the next 20 years.
However, Franklin Township was hesitant to agree to any maintenance agreement after having a bad experience with a project on Georgesville Road. In 2013, the township partnered with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to build medians on Georgesville Road. Investing thousands of dollars into decorative plants, the plants quickly died because they weren’t the right fit for the area they were in.
Also, in a rush to complete the project, no maintenance agreement was ever signed by the township, therefore they had no responsibility to maintain the property. As a result, the landscaping became neglected.
“More of the square footage for this project will be in Prairie Township as a result of how the interchange is configured,” Peters said. “However, it is important we both maintain our parts of the interchange because this is visitor’s first glimpse into our communities.”
As a result of this verbal agreement, Prairie Township is now bidding out this project and hopes to begin construction by the summer.
In other township news, the trustees agreed to once again work with Berkshire Boys for the 2019 Prairie Township Sidewalk Program.
The program, which has taken place for over 15 years, offers township property owners a 10-year interest free loan to repair their sidewalks. The loans are added to the property taxes of residents and paid off over a decade. However, if a resident moves, they must pay the remaining balance before the sale of their home can be completed.
Previously the program was entirely voluntary, but in recent years the township added a component to the program where they make residents replace sidewalks that are dangerous. Also, residents can report sidewalks that need to be repaired.
A few other revisions to the program this year include that there will be a minimum cost of $450 to repair any sidewalk and residents need to replace more than one slab of a sidewalk.
If you are interested in applying for the program or want to learn more, visit www.prairietownship.org.