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Home Special Sections Progress Oak Harbor, Woodville draw new businesses to town
Oak Harbor, Woodville draw new businesses to town

Owners of the new Beekeeper Inn in Oak Harbor hope the restaurant becomes a “destination steakhouse.”

Mark Kohn and Peggy Dennis, of Graytown, took over the historic hotel at the corner of Water and Church streets in downtown Oak Harbor, previously the home of Oak Harbor Hotel and Bad Bob’s Barbecue restaurant. The closed on the purchase in March and have been working to refurbish the building.

In Oak Harbor, other new businesses include the Chinese restaurant Sorl Village, Subway restaurant, and Dollar General. Mayor Fred Conley expects Subway has done well and plans to expand.

Luther Financial Services and Habitat for Humanity moved into the same building as the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. There are also new owners at Happy Hour, Curves has been renamed Body Works by new management, and Guiding Hands Health Service moved to Water Street.

The Old Mercantile Building is under new ownership, and Conley says there are plans to include a coffee shop in the back and begin other renovations, including a new courtyard facing Mill Street. There are also plans to begin cleaning up two other so-called “dilapidated” buildings on Main Street as a result of a new property maintenance ordinance.

Mayor Conley has other ideas he would like to see developed into its new five-year master plan. A steering committee is taking on the project and Bird-Houk engineering firm has been retained.

“A village needs to have a five-year master plan to go after grants and stuff, and I’m hoping we can actually come up with things to enhance the downtown area, and at the same time, things that aren’t extensively major. My reasoning is to try and revitalize downtown and actually get a number of groups involved,” Conley said.

“I’m hoping that when we finish this plan that some of it we will be able to implement right away. I feel like sometimes in Oak Harbor, because of our state route going through town, it’s just a place to drive through. What I would like when people get there is to say, ‘Hey, I’m in a small town’ or ‘Hey, I’m in Oak Harbor.’”

“We need some way or other a plan to pull the Portage River into downtown. We just kind of ignore it, and we have two parks downtown with a log cabin. There is excitement there — we do things around Christmas and at the log cabin there, but what I would like to see is for it become more part of downtown, because the property is really underused. I would like to pull the park system and downtown into one. We are a very walk-able community,” Conley continued.

This past year, Woodville also saw new businesses, including a hair salon shop and coffee shop, The village is working with a new business proposal planned for the west end of town.

Woodville Mayor Rich Harman said, “We continue to sustain a successful downtown business district, as well as, welcomed more than a few new businesses to town.

“Although economic times are tough and many communities across the nation are facing hardship, it is with great pleasure that I report that the state of our village remains fiscally strong. I want to thank our council, village employees, volunteers of various village committees, residents, and the business community, as they are why we are where we are today,” added Mayor Harman.

“By taking advantage of different grant opportunities we were able to provide new “Pool Rules” signs, install a shade structure at the village pool, replace the roofs on the street garage building and gazebo shelter at Trail Marker Park,” Harman continued.


Woodville
The village has had several projects happening simultaneously during 2011:

• The development of three new wells. Mayor Harman says all three are being utilized now, and produce more raw water than anticipated.

• The utilities building expansion project has recently been finalized.

“With the additional space we have combined our administrative team into one building, and the large council chamber has already been used by several organizations for events and meetings,” Mayor Harman said.

• The multi-million dollar sewer separation project will be continuing for another year. The main sewer line has been installed throughout the entire village. Mayor Harman says it is nearing completion and residents will soon be asked to make connections from their homes to the curb.

“The restoration process and residential compliance with tying in will determine the completion of this enormous project,” the mayor said.

The mayor said the village has a partnership with Efficiency Smart to bring the benefits of energy efficiency to its residents and businesses. The program offers technical assistance and financial incentives directly to customers to help reduce the cost of making energy-efficient improvements.

The Woodville police department has joined a county wide “Medication Take Back Program.”  A drop box is provided to collect prescription drugs. Harman says this program has been very successful.

Harman said a buyer is interested in restoring the historic theater downtown, but he is not sure about whether renovating the theater can be cost-effective. The village is also interested, if it cannot be renovated, in purchasing and razing the building to possibly create a park there.


Oak Harbor
Mayor Conley, who was unopposed in the November election and just began his second term, says when he gives his state of the village address, he wants to make sure residents are aware of all of the services provided.

“I think sometimes when people live in a village people don’t realize that the village does a lot of services. Like, we also maintain water and sewer and the rec department, and parks, and sometimes I think people say, ‘Well, what does the village do for me?’ The way I see it, there are lots of things, but because it becomes so natural and the services are so good people take it for granted,” Conley said.

A downtown group is again organizing a Farmer’s Market, not to coincide with markets already successful in Genoa and Fremont. Last year, Oak Harbor held three markets on Saturdays, and Conley hopes it will increase to five Saturdays this spring and summer.

Last spring, the village held a spring-clean up day in which about 20 to 25 people showed up. Conley says it will be repeated this year, and he wants to see teams created by area businesses and organization, plus would like to have sponsors provide food for the outing.

Every Sunday night, the village’s Log Cabin Group continued holding musical events in a park, where people bring their own chairs and they serve popcorn. In addition, a village bulletin board was constructed as a result of an Eagle Scout project by local boy scouts.

“Before we just had a couple stakes out there with banners on it, and now we have a nice bulletin board with a roof on it. It’s really nice to put community events on it and things like that,” Mayor Conley said.

The village recently won awards for improvements to Park Street and the mayor says it receives acclaim for its downtown Christmas decoration scheme. In addition, the village received a $180,000 grant through U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s office for replacement of LED lights and upgrades of its electrical systems.

The village went to remediation to repair its CSO Basin, which was built last year. Because Oak Harbor has combined sewer and storm grade systems, it was given an option in the late 1990s to transport or separate, and it chose to build a transport/transfer system and leave the sewers combined. But the system already needs repair.

“We have a repair ironed out that should be good for everybody involved. It’s not court-ordered, but we did this on our own (through a mediator),” Conley said.

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By: J. Patrick Eaken

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