Reimagining downtown BG

Bowling Green’s Heritage 2025 program — renamed Downtown Forward — is moving forward.

The city will be partnering with Bowling Green State University’s Center for Regional Development in the effort. The city was chosen to be a part of the CRD’s Reimagining Rural Regions – or R3 – program.

At a recent council meeting, Mayor Mike Aspacher said he has appointed a steering committee to work with the Center for Regional Development team, chaired by resident Dick Newlove. BGSU and Bowling Green High School representatives for the 13-member committee have yet to be chosen, he said.

Russell Mills, senior director of the Center for Regional Development, said that the end result of the nine-to-12-month process with the CRD will be to create a community placemaking strategic plan based on a community engagement process. The plan will serve as a starting point for a project identified by the community.

Mills said the city of Van Wert was interested in “co-working spaces” as a means of seeding entrepreneurship, and also working with businesses to determine why they often close at 4-5 p.m. In Marysville, he said that community is looking at a partnership with the YMCA to build a new community center.

He said the city of Bowling Green actually served as an example for them.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with your team,” Aspacher said.

Councilman Greg Robinette said that he was struck by the commitment of so many members of the community to the project.

“Just how many busy folks are willing to help us out and step up to the plate,” he said.

Also at the Sept. 6 meeting, council:

• Heard that committee of the whole meeting will be held tonight at 6, prior to that evening’s council meeting, to receive a presentation on a bicycle treatment map.

• Heard from Public Infrastructure Director Brian O’Connell that work on West Wooster Street to replace water and sewer lines will be beginning. The first phase will be from Church Street to Gorrell Avenue, the second phase will be from Gorrell Avenue to Haskins Road, and the third phase will be from Wooster Street to Wallace Avenue. The expected completion date of the work is May, with the work taking place over the winter. He said they are planning to maintain one lane of eastbound traffic, with westbound traffic being detoured.

O’Connell additionally said that 15 trees are to be taken down as the result of that project, as well as due to utility and pavement work. O’Connell said city staff have already spoken to property owners and that after the project is completed, they will offer trees to go back into the affected areas.

• Heard from resident Faith Elsen that an Emergency Essentials Fair will be held Saturday at 1033 Conneaut Ave. from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

• Introduced a resolution urging Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Transportation to reconsider ending the “Route 23 Connect” study, and supporting an improved highway connection between Northwest Ohio and the city of Columbus. According to a legislative package document prepared for council, ODOT has recently decided to end the study. The resolution “urges the governor and ODOT to continue to investigate improvements, upgrades, a bypass and other possibilities to address increased traffic along Route 23 through Delaware County.” The document lists benefits to an improved corridor, including “strengthened connection between Northwest Ohio and Columbus (which provides additional access to domestic and international markets for both regions), reduced congestion, improved travel times, and decreased crash rates.”

• Introduced an ordinance authorizing O’Connell to sell or trade electrical equipment no longer needed for municipal purposes. According to the legislative package document, the equipment includes a series of old 4,160 volt substation equipment, valued at approximately $25,000, as well as some additional equipment which has generated interest for $9,000 in trade-in credit from National Power Equipment Inc. which can be applied to future purchases. According to the document, “because the equipment value is over $1,000 but no longer needed for municipal purposes, it required Board and City Council approval to dispose of the items.”

• Introduced an ordinance authorizing O’Connell to execute a power purchase agreement with American Municipal Power for the city’s water treatment and wastewater treatment plants. According to the legislative package document, this relates to approximately 10% of the city’s power supply; that portion of the market has been prone to price volatility. AMP has negotiated a power purchase agreement “with Avangrid for wind power from its Locust Ridge Wind Project in eastern Pennsylvania.” The agreement is for a three-year, fixed price costing overall $53.75 per megawatt hour; current market price is at approximately $64.50 per MWh. “AMP recommended we purchase up to 2.0 MW for the plants, and the proposed allocation will be 0.8 MW to the water treatment plant and 1.2 MW to the water pollution control plant. This would supply about 38% of the energy needs for each plant,” the document stated.

• Introduced an ordinance amending sections 158.03 and 158.08 of the codified ordinances, related to historic and architectural preservation. According to the legislative package document, the Historic Preservation Commission “has been discussing changes to the minimum landscaping requirements in (the)… Historic and Architectural Preservation Code based on comments from council members during the review of the Historic Preservation Ordinance introduced in 2021. The amendment seeks to provide clarification of the requirements.”