As the community grew, so did its safety forces. The commission established its first police force in 1921, hiring one day and two nighttime officers. Ten years later, the village bought its first two police cruisers. A year after the police force was established, a resolution was passed to pay the City of Columbus $250 per run for fire protection. In 1929, residents approved a plan to build a municipal building at 2095 Arlington Avenue, to house village officials, police and an independent Fire Division—by 1972, this facility was transformed to Fire Station 71, while other municipal functions moved to 3600 Tremont Road, upon completion of the Municipal Services Center. Today—with 49 police officers and 53 fire/EMS personnel—Upper Arlington’s safety services do more than just protect. With programs such as STAY UA, Safety Town and I Am Fine, they assist and educate residents with a wealth of safety considerations.
As the decades passed, Upper Arlington grew not only in population, but also its physical size. In 1954 and 1955, the two largest parcels were annexed, nearly doubling the City’s land mass. While growth represented progress, City leaders understood it should be a thoughtful process, creating the City’s first Master Plan in 1962. A key element of this Master Plan was a recommendation that the population should not exceed 45,000, to preserve its “distinctive identity.”
With few opportunities remaining to expand the city’s footprint and a population experiencing a slight decline, 40 years on the City embarked on a major Master Plan update process, with the new plan adopted in 2001. With just five percent of the land zoned for commercial use, finding ways to maximize the business districts’ revenue generating potential were a critical priority. The Master Plan provided the framework for encouraging commercial redevelopment that would meet city goals, while also preserving and enhancing the community’s beloved residential nature. Per a directive of the 2001 Master Plan, the document was revisited after 10 years, with an updated version completed in 2013. In recent years, the City has experienced significant transformations in the Lane Avenue and Kingsdale commercial districts—while managing to respect and preserve surrounding neighborhoods—expanding amenities for residents and growing critical revenue sources to support the schools and the City.
As Upper Arlington neared the milestone of its first century, it was increasingly clear that important infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewer lines, and public facilities, were aging and falling into disrepair. In November 2014, voters approved an income tax increase of 1/2%, with the resulting revenues dedicated to addressing the backlog of capital needs. The City expanded its Capital improvement Program from seven to 10 years, with $113 million in investments identified within the first plan, setting the community back on a sustainable path for maintenance and replacements. In the first four years of implementation, more than $42 million has been reinvested, with noticeable results. Tremont Road best represents this shift in focus, transformed in 2015 and 2016 into a tree-lined, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly main street worthy of our community.
As envisioned by the Thompson brothers, open spaces and parks have been a vital component of the community throughout its history. In 1921, tennis courts and playground equipment were opened to the public at Miller Park. In 1928, the first swimming pool opened its doors, at a reported cost of $16,500. Growth of the parks system was sporadic during the first 50 years. Northam Park was created in 1946, with the original Tremont Pool built in 1955. Thompson Park (formally Lane Road Park) was created in 1960, on acreage that that had been purchased by the Board of Education for a proposed second high school. And in 1973, the City purchased farmland from Benn Blinn along Kioka Avenue that became Fancyburg Park, named after his wife’s pet name for Upper Arlington. Most recently, in 2010 the City created Sunny 95 Park, thanks to a gift/purchase agreement with a neighboring radio station of the same name. Subsequently, in 2011 the City accepted a gift of the Amelita Mirolo Barn rental facility at the park, the result of a signature fundraising effort of the Upper Arlington Community Foundation. Today, as we prepare for the next century, the City’s Parks & Recreation Department is charting its roadmap for the coming decades, through a comprehensive planning process.
One hundred years on, this community of approximately 34,000 residents has much to celebrate. Location, excellent schools, beautiful neighborhoods, a unique sense of community and pride, and an exquisite natural environment. The work of the past decade to plan for the next century has set us on an exciting path for continued success that is sure reflect the sentiments and hopes of our founding fathers.