BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — With homes, apartments and businesses springing up around Pray Boulevard, a new bridge taking shape across the Maumee River and half of the city council up for re-election, 2019 will be a year of transformation for Waterville, said Mayor Lori Brodie.
“We definitely will have a year of change,” Brodie told Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce members during their January 15 meeting.
Brodie is wrapping up her second term as mayor and cannot run again due to term limits. Council members Barb Bruno, Tim Pedro and Rod Frey – who took over for Jim Valtin in February 2018 – are up for re-election.
After Jim Bagdonas retired from the position of administrator on January 4, Finance Director Jon Goch-enour took over, leaving a vacancy to fill. By the end of the year, Police Chief Dave LaGrange also plans to retire.
All of this change brings opportunities, Brodie pointed out.
“We should embrace change. Change brings new ideas,” Brodie said.
Brodie also reflected on the changes of the past year.
In 2018, the city added 16 homes and 52 multifamily units. StoryPoint Senior Living Community opened its three-story, 96-unit independent living building, and its 36 memory care units are set to open in late spring. Waterville Place Apartments, a seven-building residential apartment complex with a total of 252 units, will break ground across from StoryPoint this year.
The Colony, 108 rental villas on Pray Boulevard, is more than 50-percent complete, Gochenour said. Crews will soon break ground on spec homes for Fiddler’s Green – 66 villas at the corner of Pray and Waterville-Monclova – will be underway soon. Just a few homes are left in Plat 1 of Farnsworth Village and Plat 2 is under construction, added RE/Max realtor Julie Fisher.
When the apartments, StoryPoint, villas and single-family homes along Pray Boulevard, in Waterville Meadows and Mill Creek are complete, Gochenour expects the population to reach 6,400.
Waterville is also seeing growth in its business sector, especially on Pray Boulevard, where:
• Dr. Jeffery Zigulis is opening Advanced Eye Care on Tuesday, February 19 in the Waterville Landing plaza. A Monclova resident, Zigulis has locations in Lambertville and Dundee, but decided to open closer to home.
• Super Shine Auto Spa, a full-service automated car wash and detail shop, is expected to open in July and bring in 400 to 500 cars on a typical Saturday.
• National Payment Corporation will build a two-story national headquarters. Its current home, in the former Zinful on Dutch Road, will be the new home of Fire and Ice, a restaurant featuring wood-fired pizza and frozen yogurt.
The northeast corner of Pray Boulevard and SR 64 is slated for a medical use, said Danberry National representative Brittany Craig.
On the southwest corner, Meijer purchased 25 acres in 2015, but has been tightlipped about when it will break ground. Craig said she thinks it will happen soon. Talks are underway with a potential big box user for land just south of the Meijer property, as well as with an automotive retail store, she said.
Behind Speedway, a 400-unit Waterville Landing Self Storage facility is planned.
“We want a variety, so consumers and residents will feel like it’s a destination. You can get your car washed, your pet washed or get an eye exam. With the addition of a medical campus, it will be even better,” Craig said. “The direct access off US 24 and the SR 64 interchange is drawing from a much larger region, along with the surrounding communities. The success of the Waterville Landing development has enhanced the awareness of what a wonderful community Waterville is to live in.”
The changes in Waterville aren’t exclusive to the Pray Boulevard area. On Waterville-Monclova Road, Waterville United Methodist Church will break ground on a $3.1 million facility. On Disher Drive, Thermeq, a steel fabricator, will build a 9,000-square-foot building, while SeaGate Plastics is planning a 17,500-square-foot addition.
Dr. April Davis, DDS, opened Gracious Smiles in the newly annexed area off Dutch Road next to the Waterville Urgent Care. Peddlers Alley also welcomed several new businesses.
This summer, Terry Rousseau will relocate the family-owned Deluxe Frame Shop to downtown Water-ville. A carpenter, Rousseau creates frames for customers including the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Symphony Orchestra and several area colleges.
Of course, the largest construction project underway is the bridge, which has been progressing quickly due to favorable weather, Goch-enour said. A one-weekend road closure will be needed over the summer to tie in Mechanic Street to the new bridge.
The old interurban bridge, known as the Roche de Boeuf bridge, has been a concern because of falling concrete. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is analyzing the bridge and will host public meetings later this year to seek input from the community.
Maintaining infrastructure and services is a priority for the growing city, Gochenour said. Major projects this year will include the resurfacing of SR 64 from the AW Trail to Waterville-Monclova and from the Trail to Mechanic Street. Disher Drive will also be completely rebuilt, after 25 years of handling semi traffic for the industrial facilities. Upgrades to the baseball diamonds at Conrad Park are also planned.
“The community doesn’t always see some of these things happening as much as the companies expanding or the new homes. We’re not getting a 300,000-square-foot Amazon distribution center, so maybe they think nothing’s going on. One of the most important things we can do is retain our small businesses,” Gochenour said.
As acting finance director and administrator, Goch-enour keeps a close eye on the business of the city. The expenditures and revenues for the city have kept fairly steady at about $10 million a year, he said. Income taxes are staying strong, with a small percentage increase each year.
“There’s more economic activity. Our local businesses seem to be doing fairly well,” Gochenour said. “
While Gochenour is in his first year as administrator and Brodie is exiting at the end of the year, she notes that some of the collaborations that were begun this year with Whitehouse and Waterville Township will impact the future.
Recently, the three communities formed the Fallen Timbers Union Cemetery District to care for the five area cemeteries. Results of a feasibility study for a possible regional fire department will be released soon.
“In government, a lot of people don’t want to hear about regionalization. We’re an Anthony Wayne community. It makes sense and it’s more responsible for the towns and townships to work together,” Brodie said.