Liberty Twp. officials say they are making moves this year to secure sound financial footing by laying the groundwork for future development, which will include a focus on roads and travel.
A new Millikin Road interchange at Interstate 75 has long been a priority for the township, and it plans to cross another major hurdle this year. Late last year the trustees learned the cost for a full interchange and improvements to surrounding roadways would be about $72 million.
There are about 700 undeveloped acres slated for commercial development in the Millikin Road area, and better access to 1,200 acres — which would hold the equivalent of 12 Liberty Centers — would be opened up when Cox Road is extended to Ohio 63 and if an interchange is built at Millikin Road.
Trustee Tom Farrell said the funding will come from a variety of sources, the federal and state governments, the county, Joint Economic Development and tax increment financing money and the township.
“Millikin interchange is my number one priority,” Farrell said. “I believe it’s a necessity for us to be able to balance the budget for not only our generation but the next generation. I think all the foundation is laid and we need to expedite and get the funding to get this accomplished.”
Approval from the federal government is expected any time and construction could begin in 2025.
Another major road project, fixing the Liberty Way interchange, will begin this spring. It is estimated at $25 million and will be paid with a combination of federal and county money. Local officials are miffed the faulty design fix is necessary at all. The state rejected the design local officials wanted 10 years ago but now realize the locals knew best.
“That’s what happens when you have the understanding of what it’s going to require 10 years before other people recognize it,” Trustee Christine Matacic said. “But you can’t change history.”
The township will cross a milestone this year with the completion of a facilities plan they started several years ago. The new Fire Station 112 under construction near the intersection of Princeton and Cincinnati Dayton roads is set for completion soon. The township will now repurpose the old station on Yankee Road for use by the services department.
“We’re going to repurpose that and do a services building sort of annex,” Trustee Steve Schramm said. “We’ll do a little tuning up of it, maybe a new paint job and sprucing it up so the service department can use it to keep literally all of our equipment out of the weather.”
The trustees also plan to sell some properties they own this year. “The township is not in the real estate business,” Farrell said. Now that the new administration center is open, the township no longer needs the building on Princeton Road where the trustees used to hold their meetings.
Schramm said originally they thought it might be a site for a future fire station, but their chief said the location isn’t optimal. They have allowed community groups to use the building since they vacated it, but in this COVID world they are potentially open to liability and they are having to charge people to use it, just because of the cleaning requirements.
The township also owns real estate on Cincinnati Dayton Road where Fire Station 112 was originally going to be built. The Princeton Road location was deemed better coverage and response, time-wise. Matacic and Schramm said they will likely hold on to that property a while longer.
“I said let’s just hold that one, because if and when Millikin goes in, that price will double or triple and we’ll certainly get our money back,” Schramm said. “We don’t really need the cash right now.”
Residents will also notice the township making an even greater effort to interact with them. At a recent meeting where residents from Carriage Hill protested the new memory care center, some said they had no notice of the development.
Farrell said they will be using their social media platforms and connect with homeowners associations to reach residents.
“I would like the public to know that we really do value their opinions, and we need them involved,” Farrell said. “We need to know what their hot buttons are and what they want to see completed. Not only in 2021 but going forward, what their issues are, their concerns, infrastructure problems and what they want built and what they don’t want built.”