Mark Zuchowski with the city of Rossford.

J.D. Pooley | Sentinel-Tribune

ROSSFORD – Mayor Neil MacKinnon III has dubbed Mark Zuchowski — a former mayor — as the architect of the Crossroads.

“He says that, yes,” Zuchowski, who is the city zoning inspector, said sheepishly, but proudly. “It’s 1,500 acres of booming property. It’s being recognized by the big developers of the United States, mostly it’s distribution right now. … It’s the crossroads of the United States, the two biggest roads crossing, with access.

“The Crossroads is a patch of land that opened up when the state finally connected the turnpike and Interstate 75. For decades they ran over top of one another. They have both been improved, since 20 years ago, with additional lanes, and it just got traffic galore going through there. That’s what Amazon recognized,” Zuchowski said.

He was mayor of Rossford from 1991-2003. He became the zoning inspector, a part-time job, when he retired as a mechanical engineer nine years ago.

He said he laughs when reading stories about the overnight success of Rossford.

“Architect is a good word, but it was by committee really, I happened to be the one, as mayor, I brought the right people together, I guess,” Zuchowski said. “I’m really not an architect. I’m a mechanical engineer. Everything had to be new. There were no roads, no utilities, no zoning.”

The connection announcement came during the time Zuchowski was mayor and he quickly recognized that a number of forms of infrastructure would be needed to turn family farms into what would one day become the Crossroads.

I-75 extends from Northern Michigan down to the tip of Florida. The Ohio Turnpike, with Interstate 80 goes east to west. Zuchowski recognized the manufacturing that had already grown up at I-75 exits, which are increasingly becoming more than just spots with a gas station and a hotel.

He said the Crossroads started as a curb-cut called Simmons Road, allowed by the Ohio Department of Transportation for a truck stop.

The concept they started with was based on the demographics of the nearby major cities: Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati, and all the manufacturing along the expressways.

“It’s how many people can you serve? It’s phenomenal, if you look at the first 100 miles … it’s a tremendous amount of population, even into Canada,” Zuchowski said of the needs for zoning and utilities — and each kept growing, back and forth.

“You had to design the infrastructure, get it in and have a creative way to get it approved by the jurisdictions,” he said.

He pointed out that there were no utilities and the expressways crossed multiple jurisdictions, including townships which had limited resources.

“It was quite a challenge to get that, because you had to go through multi-jurisdictions and they were all open ends that didn’t work together at the time. Still, it’s a hard thing to do, even today, to work together on projects, so that was the goal, for property owners to get access to those utilities,” Zuchowski said.

He pointed out that Rossford has five interchanges, with a sixth from the turnpike.

Zuchowski connected a number of dots.

They were planning for big development, the could handle high volumes of traffic, back in 1990, with a feasibility study that did include architects.

From there a port authority was created and a transportation improvement district, which he said were then taken over by the county, as they grew.

He gives a lot of credit to the Wood County government, including Engineer John Musteric, and his staff.

“Wood County is a real asset today. Their engineering department has really stood out. I would say that John Musteric has done a great job,” Zuchowski said. “His group came in and supported us on access. There’s a lot of challenges to all projects, but having them participate is really, really nice.”

He also gives credit to Vince Langevin, the Rossford city administrator he worked with while mayor,

Right now there are developers from Kansas and North Carolina looking at building on the property, which continues to receive national attention for the Amazon distribution center.

“It’s been retail for the last 20 years. It’s got the shopping center with Target, Home Depot. I think there are 80-plus businesses out there on the Crossroads right now,” Zuchowski said of the popular retail area.

Public service and love for the city of Rossford runs in the family. Zuchowski’s father, Frank, was also mayor in the 1950s, and his daughter, Caroline Zuchowski-Ecke, is the current president of city council.

Local respect for Zuchowski is represented in the annex building; it was named, renovated and remodeled during 2021, as the Mark G. Zuchowski Safety, Planning and Zoning Complex.