FAIRBORN — Fairborn citizens can expect a busy new year within the city, as leaders feel that 2015 created needed groundwork for a number of projects to continue or begin.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced in late September last year that Wright State University would host the first of three presidential debates just before the election takes place, which set the stage for city leaders to take on a handful of projects this year in an effort to present the community in its best light.
Council approved funds during the fall months for detailed construction drawings for the Colonel Glenn Highway project, which will include improving the area’s aesthetics with WSU in mind, increasing walkability and enhancing the corridor. City leaders hope to prepare the area to be as shovel-ready as possible so that bidding can take place before winter ends and construction may begin in the spring season. It is aimed to wrap-up before the event takes place.
“We’re going to build it in stages if we have to, if we don’t get all the money, so we can understand what we can build that will have the most impact and the most beautification efforts,” City Manager Deborah McDonnell said. “We’re excited about that.”
Code enforcement will additionally be focused on cleaning up the areas leading to downtown and other areas leaders are hopeful for guests to visit, and improving the Broad Street corridor will serve as a priority as the debate approaches.
“We think a lot of people coming to the event in September will be military-related,” McDonnell said. “The Broad Street corridor leads into gate 1A [of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base], and it’s really important that it has high show value and really looks ‘wow.’”
Officials wish to continue Fairborn’s improvement efforts as leaders want to create a business-friendly environment and a more attractive city.
”Council recognizes that if we’re going to have growth, we have to get rid of the stuff that stifles growth — ugly, blighted buildings stifle growth,” Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick said. “No one wants to come in with a new business when the one next door is falling down.”
Blighted buildings will continue to come down as council allocated $250,000 to go toward such. Between 2013 through 2015, 37 buildings were demolished; 10 blighted buildings were taken down in 2015, including the former Elder-Beerman building on Kauffman Avenue. City officials not only recognizes how this stumps Fairborn’s growth, but the safety issue it poses to the citizens.
“The number one job of any city government is to provide safety and security for the citizens,” he said. “We have an obligation to deal with blighted buildings.”
On an internal level, it is implemented a new customer service model within the planning and building department in conjunction with the lean six sigma. As it moves forward with doing such, officials will double-check the fees related to bringing new business to Fairborn.
“We are doing some process mapping, looking at how we actually process the work we do in that department — who does it, can we do it better and be more efficient,” McDonnell said.
The city’s rebranding effort is continuing; three logo and tagline options, respectively, have been identified. Next, guideline documents for how the logo can be used must be created and focus groups will be gathered to nail down taglines. However, nothing has been voted upon at this point.
Trash and litter control
Citizens will see a push against litter this year, as leaders wish for Fairborn to be an attractive area not only for the millions of debate viewers, but for potential new businesses and citizens as well. Funds for such have been allocated in the current operating budget, which means more money has been forecasted for garbage pickup.
“We really want to push our citizens not to litter,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’m involved in three different groups who do adopt-a-highway, and within a week those areas we already cleaned up tend to already be messy again … We don’t want people leaving here saying ‘that was one of the trashiest city’s.’ We want them to say ‘that was one of the cleanest city’s.’”
The City of Fairborn is in the process of negotiating a contract for refuse, and leaders would like to see recycling bins that include lids as part of the deal. It offered a survey for citizens to express what they would like to see in the community’s trash collection services, and Kirkpatrick said bins with lids were high on citizens’ priority list.
“We’re excited that people recycle,” McDonnell said. “But if people put it out and it’s a windy day, [the recyclables] go everywhere. We want to make that a priority and if we can negotiate different bins, I think it may help people want to recycle more and it’ll also contain it.”
A number of other road construction projects are aimed to take place within the community, including some along Fairborn’s key corridors, such as Kauffman Avenue and Broad Street.
Leaders are looking into designing the extension on the Colonel Glenn Highway landscaping plan down Kauffman Avenue, as they feel it would provide a different feeling for that corridor and would fit in with the bike trail. Leaders would additionally like move forward with plans for the Skyway Plaza, as they feel that the area could offer space for new businesses.
The new Kroger building is additionally targeted to begin construction this year. City leaders have seen sets of plans in regards to its location in order to get the proper zoning in place, and McDonnell is hopeful that such construction will attract economic growth to the area.
Fairborn is also electing to move forward with plans for an industrial park that is aimed to be located near the Interstate 70 and Interstate 675 meeting point. Leaders are hoping the legal documents will be settled at some point this year.
“The developer that’s going to be working on that, we hope we can start to negotiate some contracts to get some contracts to get some jobs in there,” McDonnell said. “We’re looking at businesses such as manufacturing companies, logistic companies, people with high-truck needs because that would be a perfect corridor for them.”
Construction for housing developments will also continue, and its land use plan must be finalized this year.
“We’ll be having public hearings in the spring to talk about what recommendations we have, mostly with land use and how it follows through with the zoning codes we need to put in place,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for the first time in 40 years to [ask] ‘does this zoning code make sense?’”
The City of Fairborn had a hand in identifying potential sites for new educational facilities, if the Fairborn City School District elects to construct new versus renovate the existing buildings. The three school board elects promised to work closer with council, which has been welcomed by Fairborn officials with open arms. The entities hosted a joint citizens forum back in November, in which both groups invited community input in regards to how they would like to see them work together going forward.
Fairborn officials are additionally seeking to enhance its relationship with WSU and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The Downtown Fairborn Betterment Association is seeking options for making the downtown area more welcoming to young airman and students, such as keeping stores open later on weekends.
“It’s like it’s our time … Fairborn, we’re ready to charge ahead,” Kirkpatrick said.
Whitney Vickers can be reached by calling her directly at 937-502-4532, or on Twitter @wnvickers. For more content online, visit our website or like our Facebook page.