Waterville Surveying Residents For Comprehensive Plan Update

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — What do Waterville residents want their community to look like in the next five or 10 years?

A survey being launched this week will give the city’s more than 6,000 inhabitants an opportunity to weigh in on housing and neighborhoods, economic development, downtown and riverfront revitalization, parks and recreation, future land use and zoning, transportation and connectivity, infrastructure and community facilities.

Residents can access the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WatervilleComSurvey or scan the QR code on a survey awareness card that will be placed around the community and on the city’s website at www.waterville.org. A printed copy of the survey will also be available at the Waterville Municipal Building, 25 N. Second St. 

The 18-question survey will take about six minutes to complete and is one of three that will inform the city’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, said Glenn Grisdale, a certified planner and principal of Reveille Ltd., which was hired to facilitate the process.

In addition to the initial survey, Anthony Wayne Local Schools students in grades 9-12 will have an opportunity to take the survey – even those who are not currently Waterville residents. The reason, Grisdale said, is that many youths grow up and return to the same area to live and raise families.

“In Napoleon, we found that the major age cohort completing the surveys was females ages 35-44. When we looked at residency, it’s 30 years or more. Daughters are born, leave for college, come back and have children,” he said, explaining that this same dynamic occurs in cities of similar size, including Waterville. 

“We do all we can to reach out to students to get their perspective and their dreams on how they want the community to look like, feel and function,” he added.

Using those two surveys, plus input from committee members, Waterville’s department heads and other stakeholders, another survey called a community preferences survey will be deployed sometime this fall. For example, if residents say in initial surveys that they want more riverfront access, a follow-up survey might ask where those preferred access spots might be.

“The results from all three surveys will help us in generating the 2025 Waterville Comprehensive Plan,” Grisdale said.

A major portion of the update process involves looking at the 2012 plan and determining which projects have been completed – like the Parker Square and Memorial Park projects – and which ones are still relevant and need to remain in the plan. 

The 120 acres of city-owned land on Choctaw Drive, just off of Dutch Road, may be one area of focus. The 2012 plan currently has this land set aside for a planned business park, recreational use and multifamily housing, Grisdale said. When the city looked at rezoning a portion for industrial use a few years ago, dozens of neighbors opposed the change, stating that they preferred more housing or recreation. Further, the city hasn’t received much interest in the land for business or industry. 

“There’s probably market forces in play,” Grisdale said. “With no movement on development, we will look to see if it makes sense. If not, we might readjust the uses.”

Dave Kerscher, a member of both the steering committee and the city’s Planning Commission, said the Farnsworth Business Park – along Waterville Monclova Road between Neapolis Waterville and River roads – will also see renewed discussion. The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority purchased 48.5 acres of farmland just west of the existing park to spur additional industrial uses.

“Industrial is always a plus when it comes to development. It brings good-paying jobs and lends well to the tax base,” Kerscher said. “We’ve been limited in that area for a while.”

The opening of the U.S. 24 bypass in 2012 also brought changes, including more development around Pray Boulevard and less downtown truck traffic. 

“How has that affected the community? There may be more opportunities for multimodal pedestrian solutions along old 24, like a multiuse path from Dutch Road to downtown,” he said.

In his years of working with communities, including Monclova Township, Northwood, Napoleon, Archbold and Perrysburg, Grisdale has developed a feel for community interests. He suspects that pedestrian connectivity will rank high on residents’ wish list, as well as community spaces or parks.

“But there may also be new initiatives and ideas,” he added. 

The Comprehensive Plan provides general recommendations on what the city should strive for, but the zoning code is the enforcement document that provides details, such as density, height of buildings and setbacks. Sometimes, communities find a need to update the zoning code after going through the process.

“We do use the plan as a guide,” Kerscher said of the Planning Commission. “Input from the residents is important. The more people that participate, the better. I encourage anyone who does the survey to do so with good conscience. It does affect the city for years to come.”

Grisdale is confident that Waterville’s updated plan will reflect the goals of the community.

“It’s especially fun when you see a community with enough energized and caring people who appreciate the planning process,” Grisdale said. “I think we’ll find that in Waterville.”

The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee members are all residents or property owners in Waterville, including Mary Duncan, city council member; Lisa Exner, vice president of the Anthony Wayne Area Arts Commission; Brad Fox, Ohio Department of Transportation and member of Public Works Committee; Scott Jahns, retired engineer and former Charter Review Commis-sion member; Kerscher, real estate agent and member of the Waterville Planning Commission; Jeff Lohse, retired engineer from the Lucas County Engineer’s Office; Doug Parrish, Metroparks engineer and Waterville Planning Commission member; Theresa Pollick, Northwest Ohio Water and Sewer District public information officer; Jennifer Scroggs, an attorney who previously served as chair of the Charter Review Commission; Megan Vahey Casiere, president of the Employers’ Association; Jeff Valuck, vice president of Surface Combustion; and Lisa Webber, Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio.

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