Fire district study, city center gains, among highlights in Northwood

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Northwood Mayor Ed Schimmel said the city is looking into the creation of a fire district with neighboring communities.
        Schimmel spoke at the annual “State of the Communities” meeting at Mercy Health - St. Charles Hospital, sponsored by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce, on Friday, Jan. 27. He noted the highlights of 2022 and plans for this year.
        The Ohio Fire Chiefs Association conducted a fire district study for Northwood to look at the viability of a new fire district, he said.
        “We’ve had a lot of struggles, as have many volunteer fire departments in Ohio, with having people actually show up to calls. The younger generation doesn’t seem all that interested in being firefighters, unfortunately. The study is with Lake Township, Northwood and Rossford. We’re looking to see if it’s feasible to create a district between those areas. It’s a large area. Rossford’s district, which goes all the way down to U.S. 20, presents some issues. And there’s no fire department or building down there. So we have a lot of hurdles to overcome to make this district. But I think this is something we have talked about for years – working together in the area, reduce costs and provide better services.”
        The Northwood Fire Department, he added, “does an amazing job.”
        “They have excellent response times, and a lot of new equipment. But the guys who go to most of the calls are getting up there in age. They’re all saying, in the next four or five years, they are going to be retiring. So we’re looking at a big issue. Same thing in Rossford, same thing in Lake Township.”
City center
        Northwood is also continuing to move forward on developing a city or town center.
        “This is my eighth year as mayor. When I was elected, I sat down with the comprehensive plan from the 1980s. What hasn’t been done in the comprehensive plan, I thought? Number one was the city center. When they wrote this, we had the Woodville Mall. So we kind of had our city center. The grand view of the city was to have a city center.”
        After Northwood bought the Woodville Mall property, and tore down the dilapidated buildings, some with asbestos that had to be removed, it was decided to move forward to create a downtown area, he said.
        “If you’ve been by there, we have a boulevard, and off-street parking. It looks like your traditional downtown with big streetlights. The road that goes off our downtown boulevard, a north and south road, now goes to a new development that will have 130 or so villas. Phase 1 is pretty much done. They’re going to submit permits to start Phase 2 any day now to start the next phase of buildings. We’re looking at an apartment complex on the other side of the road. That’s not a sure thing. Hopefully, in the near future, you’ll be hearing more information about that.”
Assisted living
        The city has been working with developers on building assisted living facilities.
        “With the way the economy has taken a turn on assisted living, that’s been kind of difficult. We had a developer with a purchase agreement who was ready to build. Architects designed the whole thing. As you’ve seen with some of the assisted living/memory care places, the market fell out from under them,” said Schimmel. “We’re still working with a couple of developers. Hopefully, that moves forward in the near future.”
        The downtown boulevard, where the north-south road dead ends, is where the new recreation center will be located, he said.
        “That was another thing that was in our comprehensive plan. The city wanted to have a rec center, or community center, with a library, computers, senior services – all those sorts of things in it.”
        When the building was designed, costs increased beyond the initial estimate of $5.5 million, he said.
        “It just kept getting bigger and bigger. The cost of building materials, contractors – everything kept skyrocketing. Now, it’s almost a $10 million recreation center. But it’s going to be a stellar building. It’s going to offer pretty much what the comprehensive plan back in the 80s stated the citizens wanted. We went out about four years ago and did a recreation survey. We had a huge response. Basically, people’s thoughts really hadn’t changed since the 80s. Everyone still wanted the same stuff. So this thing is going to have a gymnasium and meeting rooms. Everyone wanted a pool, but it just wasn’t feasible,” he said.
        The recreation center will feature a very large splash pad, he added.
        “It’s going to be a pretty fantastic thing for kids to use. Unfortunately, the cost of that is outrageous, too. Anyone in government knows what I mean. The cost of playground equipment is something you’d never imagine. To build a splash pad like what we’re looking at was $300,000, and now it’s almost $600,000. So I don’t know how these numbers got the way they did, but that’s where they’re at,” he said.
        “So those are the big things we’re working on this year. They are things I started seven years ago. We’re just trying to get these things done and put in place. We’re getting there.”


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