BG mayor: School facilities must be a priority


Bowling Green is booming with a new city building going up, roads under construction, and a big business — Abbott Labs — opening.

But one component is missing — new school facilities, said Mayor Mike Aspacher in his Tuesday State of the City address.

“Space matters,” said Aspacher, who is a Bowling Green graduate and former board of education member. “Do not underestimate the environment in which education is delivered.”

In addition to education, schools are a hub for community activities, he said.

“As the only district in Wood County that hasn’t updated its facilities, this puts Bowling Green at a disadvantage,” he said.

An investment in the schools will attract new businesses to the city and increase property values, Aspacher said.

“Modern, well-equipped school buildings are a factor when people are choosing where to live,” he said.

In November, a combination income/property tax to fund a new high school failed, with 4,960 (48%) favored and 5,417 (52%) opposed. The Bowling Green City Schools Board of Education is continuing to have discussions about an issue for this year’s ballot.

“I recognize the conversations about schools will be difficult and polarizing,” Aspacher said. “I hope as we go through the next round of discussions that we pull together and determine that we as a community need to step up, we need to be bold and proactive, and make these investments a reality.”

There are many good things in Bowling Green’s future, he said during the address, which was hosted by the chamber of commerce.

The Abbott Labs $500 million plant is expected to generate 450 new jobs. The 100-acre site is at the southeast corner of the Ohio 25 and Nims Road intersection. Other new businesses in Bowling Green include ICE Industries, Fed Ex and Vital FHM.

The new $11 million City Administrative Services building blends the facade of the former post office/senior center with a modern, accessible facility. The new city building, with ample meeting space and offices, will open this summer.

Roads and waterlines, including the West Wooster Street stretch and the Campbell Hill Road roundabout, continue to be improved. There will be 11 miles of residential street paving done in Bowling Green this year, along with another 9 miles on West Newton Road, North Main Street and the new roundabout, Aspacher said.

A new, shared-use path will connect the high school and middle school campus to the community center and Cogan’s Crossing neighborhood. The city is contributing $120,000 to this $1.2 million project.

Aspacher proposed pursuing another path that will connect Crim Elementary and Carter Park.

The next challenges to tackle include a gateway to downtown from Thurstin Avenue.

There must be a decision about the future of the fire station there, along with the electrical division, he said.

“The fire station is a pressing matter,” Aspacher said, adding that it has major structural concerns, with the firefighters’ living space above the engine room getting exhaust fumes.

“The city either needs to invest significantly in the current building or construct a new one,” he said.

A new police communications center will be built south of the police division. Public restrooms, which will be across from Wooster Green in the former bank, will open this summer.

A Downtown Forward initiative continues, with a steering committee identifying priorities for improvements.

“As our community continues to change with the times as all communities do, I think about how we balance that which makes Bowling Green special today and build on those assets while also encouraging the community to move forward and adapt to the current times,” Aspacher said.

“In Bowling Green, one can be engaged in the community, there are opportunities for recreation and entertainment, and the people here care about one another. It is a place that is large enough to offer amenities and opportunities for a wide variety of interests, but it is small enough that we are still connected and accessible to each other.”

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