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Published: Wednesday, 1/25/2006

Northwood mayor notes upswing

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Northwood residents have a number of reasons to be proud of their community, according to Mayor Mark Stoner in his annual State of the City address.

The mayor noted a positive increase in construction, new business, and infrastructure and improvement projects in 2005, and said he most anticipates the Wales Road grade separation project.

The project, on schedule to begin in 2008, will realign two miles of Wales to facilitate grade separation over the CSX Railroad and Norfolk Southern Railroad.

"That is going to be huge for the city," the mayor said.

And the long-awaited fire station on Tracy Road to replace Fire Station No. 1 is almost finished, which is something Council President Mike Myers said he's been waiting years to see.

"The other one was outdated, and we couldn't get our equipment in it - it wasn't large enough," he said.

Other department accomplishments over the last year include the steady progression of the fire inspection program at local businesses, purchasing a minipumper, and seeing several personnel complete required training.

The police department has reported a reduction in the number of crashes last year partly because of the implementation of the city's red-light cameras and mobile speed van, Mayor Stoner said. Police officers are sporting a new police patch - one that replaces a design worn for 43 years.

As for new business, the mayor said 2005 was a strong year, as officials welcomed 19 businesses inside the city limits - representing a more than 50 percent increase from 2004.

"Bringing new business in the city is always a big issue," Mr. Myers added. "We need to get out and promote our city in a positive way, and I think we've been moving right in the right direction."

In addition, construction remained strong, as officials issued 402 zoning permits for residential, commercial, and industrial new construction valued at more than $22 million - an increase of 110 percent over 2004, the mayor said.

The 2005 housing market surpassed the 2004 pace by 63 percent, with new residential homes reaching 31. Two new owner-occupied homes that will be built through Habitat for Humanity will be partly funded through the Community Housing Improvement Program, which awarded $555,000 to the city through 2009 to assist low to moderate-income families.

Mayor Stoner said the city's general-fund revenue increased more than $584,000 last year while expenses increased $240,000.

Through grants, Northwood received $175,104 in 2005. Through fines and forfeitures, the Northwood Mayor's Court has collected $164,139, the mayor said.

"I think it was a pretty good year for us," he said.

For 2006, he said he wants to continue resurfacing streets, with Hanson Street slated soon along with the continuous right turn from Wales to southbound Oregon Road.

"Streets are a big thing for me," the mayor said. "We want to get to many neighborhood residential streets."

Residents can expect to see more construction, bringing growth that Mayor Stoner said is moving at just the right pace.

"If you have growth too quickly, you can't plan for it and then you get in trouble," he said. "So it's a nice, steady progression with housing, especially."



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