Regional Planning launches big study

Seneca Regional Planning Commission took the final step in launching a countywide comprehensive plan study Wednesday evening.

SRPC Executive Director Charlene Watkins, who spearheaded the effort for the $139,000 plan, said it is to include strategies for housing, commercial and industrial development, education, transportation, parks and recreation, and arts and culture.

Watkins said the contractor, CT Consultants, had begun work before the contract was signed Wednesday.

Seneca County, Seneca County Park District, Fostoria Economic Development Corp., city of Tiffin and SRPC helped pay for the plan and are to reap benefits when it is completed in about 18 months. Some entities are to receive more detailed plans depending on what was paid.

Watkins said the county contributed $15,000, the park district paid $19,000, FEDC paid $10,000, Tiffin paid $34,200 and SRPC is to pick up the rest of the tab.

In October 2016, SRPC increased assessments for the first time since 1995 to help pay for the plan. The increase raised about an additional $28,372.50 annually. The additional funds from the first year of collection are to be used solely for the plan.

Watkins said the plan is to serve as a roadmap for development and improvements for 15-20 years.

Watkins commended those who got involved with the project.

“Everybody came together on this,” she said. “I’m very proud and everyone is very excited.”

Watkins said the comprehensive plan is to include the incorporation of a grant-funded $100,000 active transportation plan that is being developed.

The transportation plan is to craft a countywide strategy evaluating walking, bicycling and busing. It is to provide maps and show how to upgrade the trail system and connect it with trail systems in other counties.

Watkins said stakeholders in the county worked in the field March 29, traveling more than 300 miles. She also said the group worked on maps Friday with contractors who are designing the plan.

Watkins said the transportation plan should be completed in July.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the commission welcomed three board members.

Eden Township Trustee Vern Morter, Scipio Township Trustee Rod Miller and Tiffin City Councilman Tyler Shuff were welcomed to the group.

Watkins also said results of a countywide branding initiative are to be released at a Tiffin City Council meeting April 16. The initiative, which county commissioners contributed $3,500 to last year, is to include logos for high-exposure county organizations, a county slogan and a branding strategy.