Thursday, February 20, 2003

Fairfield follows neighbors' growth

City manager reports on progress

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - This older suburban city is working hard to keep up with its newly booming neighbors in Butler and Warren counties.

The formula for Fairfield's success in reshaping itself is no secret, City Manager Art Pizzano said in his annual "State of the City" address Wednesday. It took millions of dollars of investment, partnership with the private sector, and hard work by city employees and residents, he said.

"We had a lot of persistence, dedication and support from you and our citizens," Pizzano told the audience at his "State of the City" luncheon, hosted by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce.

In half-hour slide show, Pizzano recounted some of the recent projects, large and small, that have contributed to Fairfield's rising stature:

The new downtown, the Village Green at Pleasant Avenue and Wessel Drive, includes Lane Public Library, an amphitheater, a public park, neighborhood businesses and larger commercial developments.

A $9.6 million community center will be the centerpiece of the Village Green. It will have a 250-seat theater, a gallery, an arts and crafts room, a senior activity center, a children's activity area, a dance and fitness studio and classrooms.

The city is trying to revitalize the Ohio 4 corridor, a major north-south artery that features a mishmash of businesses and frequent traffic congestion.

Mercy Hospital Fairfield recently began construction on a two-year, $54.6 million project that will double its size and create 100 full-time jobs and add $5 million a year to the payroll.

Jungle Jim's International Market, the city's best-known business, is spending $8 million to $10 million to expand. That project will include new restaurants, retail stores and possibly a hotel.

With the extension of Symmes Road, Fairfield now has a direct link with Interstate 75 via Union Centre Boulevard. That opens up hundreds of acres for development, creating the possibility of a new commercial corridor for Fairfield.

The construction of new subdivisions has helped push the city's population from 42,097 in 2000 to about 45,000 today.

"The majority of our growth will be commercial, light industrial and retail," Pizzano said after his speech.

"In a nutshell, Fairfield works," Pizzano said. "And that's the message we want to convey."


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