Rossford unveils master plan

ROSSFORD — The city is in the center of a regional revitalization.

Architects of the new Rossford master plan stressed recent business growth and clean energy in the completed work they presented at the Dec. 12 council meeting.

“Literally, in Rossford, you have the leading edge of the global new economy,” Scott Polikov, Gateway Planning Group, said in follow-up interviews. “This, between Columbus and Detroit, around Toledo, is at the center of reinventing the auto industry and the world.”

Polikov cited Pilkington/NSG, First Solar, Amazon, the Scannell Properties and Bass Pro Shops.

The plan was written and researched by Polikov, with Mick Granlund of O’Brien Architects and Paul Tecpanecatl of Poggemeyer Design Group, who were all at the council meeting.

“This master plan assumes Rossford catalyzing and ‘hosting’ the coordination of several niche opportunities in clean energy, conservation, innovative mobility and cutting edge transportation logistics,” the master plan stated.

Polikov suggested downtown EV races in Rossford, with development wrapped around the promotion of the new glass power technologies from NSG and First Solar. Amazon recently changed of their fleet of delivery vehicles from fossil fuels to electric, with EV truck manufacturer Rivian, he said.

“Through the autos and EV, where innovation comes through racing, this could be the first committed electric vehicle motorsports raceway in the world,” Polikov said.

Bass Pro Shops were founded by Johnny Morris, who was honored in 2019 with the Audubon Medal and in 1990 with the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Award.

While the positive concepts would attract young professionals to the exciting new jobs, Polikov acknowledged that there is a lack of housing options.

“We will attract higher end research manufacturing jobs, not just logistics jobs,” Polikov said. “You won’t have a ton of infill, but you will have authentic living neighborhoods integrated in the development.”

He suggested townhomes, larger single family homes that have high quality multiple units and enclave living, all close to the working areas.

Redevelopment along the riverfront, starting with the section adjacent to Hollywood Casino was also suggested.

The plan took almost four years to create.

“I wanted a living, breathing document, that I could put into the marketplace,” Mayor Neil MacKinnon III said.

The plan started in 2018 and costs almost $500,000: $461,850 for labor and $34,698 in expenses.

City Administrator Allyson Murray said that just under $20,000 came from the general fund. The rest came from the three tax increment financing districts, the two in the Crossroads and the one in the downtown district.

MacKinnon took credit and blame for the length of time it took the planners to finish the 90-page document, pointing out that he received a great deal more than just a document.

“Like a lot of communities do, they produce a document and they put it on a shelf, and nobody sees it. Rossford did that once before, before I got on council,” MacKinnon said. “I didn’t want that.”

He said that the many rapid changes in Rossford, with one business after another opening, following the lead of Amazon, dragged out the document.

“I purposely paused it four different times. We were pretty far down the road when I was told Amazon was taking a pretty hard look at Rossford,” MacKinnon said. “I didn’t want a master plan done when I knew Amazon was going to be in Rossford. I also paused it a couple times during COVID.”

Polikov said there are many partners in this plan.

“We basically came in … not realizing how important Rex Huffman and the (Wood County) Port Authority were. They’re the glue that holds all of this together,” Polikov said.