EATON — From restaurants to retail shops, the City of Eaton has seen growth and development in 2016, as new businesses remodel and fill vacant locations all around town.
And soon, according to officials, Eaton could be getting a new home center and lumberyard.
During a Monday, Nov. 21, meeting, Eaton Building Official Jim Ankrom presented a report on the many projects and updates, a report which spanned the entire municipality.
Projects under way or now complete include:
•450 Washington-Jackson Road: Preble County Medical Center is currently completing some interior alterations. The first project was an expansion of Dr. Mark Vosler’s office, which is complete. Work on a community room and office area, and conversion of a storage room into an additional exercise area for therapy is under way.
•251 Washington-Jackson Road: Twin Valley Bank is constructing a new branch office. According to Ankrom, this project is “moving along.” What many might not be aware of, according to Ankrom, is the main part of the structure is modular, while the front and rear canopies are built on site.
•Five Points Shopping Center: The latest project included extending each tenant’s space, eliminating the interior common area of the “mall.”
•1407 North Barron Street: The former Eaton Church of the Brethren office, was purchased by L&M Products. The project went through zoning and minor building modifications.
•307 North Cherry Street: Eagles Point “is starting to come together,” according to Ankrom, who noted, the developer is close to having the second floor ready for occupancy.
•425 South Barron Street: Eaton Fuel Center, site of the old Shell station, is being remodeled into a new 4,000 square foot convenience store with a new automatic and manual car wash bay. It is expected to open very soon.
•The Preble County Fairgrounds is currently in the process of building a new 7,200 square foot building, and making additional electrical upgrades in the camping areas.
•301 Industrial Drive: The new use will be an auto repair business, which will open soon, Ankrom reported.
•220 Wayne Trace Road: The Church of the Latter Day Saints constructed a 2,700 square foot addition on the east side of the existing building.
The downtown Eaton area has seen several new projects. “We’ve been very blessed in our community,” Ankrom said, noting Eaton hasn’t suffered from the “doughnut effect” — where businesses build on the outskirts of town while the downtown deteriorates.
Projects downtown include:
•122 North Barron Street: Prodigy Salon and Spa has opened in the former Richland Interiors Building.
•211 North Barron Street: A new restaurant and deli will be constructed in the old church building most recently home to Carolyn Shepherd Realty.
•112 East Main Street: Boutique on Main, an apparel store, has opened at this location.
•105 North Cherry Street: C’Moore’s, a new 1,100 square foot restaurant, will be opening. They will serve sandwiches, soups and salads, according to Ankrom.
Ankrom also noted, it has been an overall “very good year.” Ten new home permits were issued in 2016 as well.
Mayor David Kirsch applauded the work of Ankrom’s office and the Planning Board, and noted City Manager Brad Collins, Ankrom, and Councilman Joe Renner had worked very hard on another exciting upcoming development for the City of Eaton: a Gilman Home Center/Lumberyard. Gilman Home Centers operate eight other locations, including nearby “Do It Best” centers in Oxford and in Winchester, Brookville, New Castle and Connersville, Indiana.
The project is in the process, according to Kirsch who said, “I think the timing is right for the City of Eaton. You guys played a great role in this.”
Kirsch also noted, the group is also looking for a spot for the micro-brewery which was recently brought to the city for approval.
In other business:
•City officials welcomed and congratulated the seven winners of this year’s Eaton Fire Division Coloring Contest. Six winners took home a $10 gift card and a certificate, while the grand prize winner took home a certificate and a $25 gift card presented by the mayor.
•Kirsch read a proclamation honoring Sarah Willis, Eaton High School golfer who won the Division II State Championship in October — and set a new state record while doing it. “I want to thank my awesome community for all the support I’ve had,” Willis said.
•Council approved a resolution for disposal of property no longer needed for municipal purposes, including three vehicles from the Eaton Police Division: a 2002 Chevrolet Impala, a 2008 Chevrolet Impala, and a 2000 Chevrolet Impala. The vehicles will be sold by one of the following “most advantageous methods”: internet sale by conducted by Government Deals, Inc., competitive public bid, or purchase by a political subdivision.
•Council removed from the table and turned down unanimously a resolution authorizing purchase of a track loader for $65,000 from Southeastern Equipment Company in Monroe through the State Cooperative Purchasing Program and then approved an alternative resolution to replace a 2004 track loader by purchasing a new Case TV380 Compact Track Loader from Southeastern Equipment Company for a total net amount not to exceed $60,520.
•Council briefly discussed the Fort St. Clair Association proposal detailing an eight-year plan to restore the fort. The plan, which currently does not have a firm cost estimate but would utilize private donations and federal grants, includes an archaeological dig on the site and a full reconstruction of the original fort for tourism and educational purposes. If implemented, the six-phase project would be complete in 2024, according to a presentation made to council last summer.
Renner questioned the status of the proposal, which is currently being vetted by the Parks and Recreation Board, according to Kirsch, who said there will be a meeting to discuss specifics before it comes to council.
Renner said the group “seems to think they are going to get it done,” and “I get the feeling they’re trying to push us along.”
Vice Mayor Craig Moormeier voiced his opinion the project would hurt the community more than help it, as Fort St. Clair is currently the city’s most-used park. According to councilman Dave Daily, “right now, it’s available to 100 percent of people, and any changes made drops that percentage down.”
“There are a lot of cities today that don’t have what we have,” Moormeier said. There’s no park like it in the area, he said of the Fort.
Daily added, the city should proceed cautiously. “Do what’s best for all the citizens of Eaton.”
Kirsch noted, he would take everything discussed under advisement and would take it to the Park Board.
•Kirsch thanked the citizens of Eaton for voting to approve the city’s renewal levy.
Eaton City Council was slated to meet again on Monday, Dec. 5, for the first of two regular meetings in December. The next meeting will take place on Monday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m., in the Eaton City Building on Maple Street.
Reach Leslie Collins at 937-683-4055 or on Twitter @lcollins_RH.