Communities around Central Ohio are facing rapid change. That’s apparent in Upper Arlington where Steve Schoeny serves as City Manager. In this week’s episode, we discussed the role of a city manager, his time as Development Director for the City of Columbus, addressing diversity in communities, and the new development coming to UA.
- Upper Arlington
- Columbus Department of Development
- Ohio Department of Development
- Ice Miller
- Columbus Land Bank
- United Way of Central Ohio
- LinkUs Initiative
- Rapid 5 Project
The Confluence Cast is sponsored by The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission featuring stories about local and regional partners that envision and embrace innovative directions in economic prosperity, transportation, sustainability and an inclusive Central Ohio. MORPC’s transformative programming, innovative services and public policy initiatives are designed to promote and support the vitality and growth in the region.
Tim Fulton 00:10
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. We are a weekly Columbus centric podcast focusing on the civics, lifestyle, entertainment, and people of our city. I’m your host Tim Fulton. This week I spoke with Upper Arlington city manager Steve shoni. We discussed the role of a city manager what makes Arlington unique, his time as development director for the city of Columbus, making investments for long term benefit addressing diversity in communities and the new developments coming to UA. You can get more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast comm also the confluence cast is on Patreon. Find out how to support this podcast on our website, the confluence cast comm or at patreon.com/confluence. The confluence cast is sponsored this week by the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission, or more BCy. featuring stories about local and regional partners that envision and embrace innovative directions in economic prosperity, transportation, sustainability, and an inclusive Central Ohio. More PCs transformative programming, innovative services and public policy initiatives are designed to promote and support the vitality and growth in the region. For more information, please visit more pcy.org Enjoy the interview. Sitting down here virtually with the city manager of Burlington Steve shoni. Steve, how are you, sir?
Steve Schoeny 01:48
I’m doing well. How are you?
Tim Fulton 01:49
I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. I wanted to first of all, just get your bio, what your background is where you came from? And how long you’ve been with Arlington?
Steve Schoeny 01:59
Yeah, sure. So I’ve been with Arlington for about two years, actually a little over two years now. So I started Deana September of 19. Before that I was spent 66 years as the development director for the city of Columbus. So there I had responsibility for code enforcement planning, housing. Economic Development, downtown development, basically, I used to say if Oh, and then we had social service programs, too. So basically, if you were doing something to invest in the city in some way, shape, or form, probably Department of Development had something to it. So I spent most of my career, most of my career before that with the Ohio Department of Development. started off doing international trade promotion, went from there to run in the states tax incentive programs. And then running off the state’s business attraction program did that for about 13 years. In between the two, I spent three years working for ice Miller, which is a law firm here in town doing working in their consulting practice. I’m not a lawyer, but doing I was doing consulting for businesses that were looking to get incentives or communities that were looking to improve their economic development programs. Okay, you know, really kind of came to the city manager role and a pretty roundabout way, a pretty non traditional way, for folks, but it’s been great. It’s been a fantastic two years, you know, setting aside this whole COVID thing, which was a little bit weird, but
Tim Fulton 03:34
I mean, most of the time you’ve been there, that’s what you’ve been looking
Steve Schoeny 03:37
after. Yeah, exactly. So it’s, it’s, you know, as everybody, as with everybody, the last two and a half years have felt more like five and a half to 25 and a half somewhere in that range. But it’s been good. We got a great community, a great team and all things considered. We have come through or coming through this storm and living, you know, learning to live with this, as well as any community around so it’s been great.
Tim Fulton 04:05
Yeah. And for those that don’t know, or aren’t familiar with it, and have been living under a male role structure for most of their lives. Can you talk about the role of a city manager and who you’re accountable to and what what it looks like?
Steve Schoeny 04:17
Yep. So basically, if you have a city manager structure, city council hires the mayor. City council hires that person to be the day to day manager of the city. So there is someone who carries the title of city council president and Mayor. That’s Brendan King. Who, as any appointed official should always do, I have to say is the most amazing. I’ve ever know. I really do. I have a fantastic Council. I have seven council members. They’re all elected at large. I actually have I’m wearing my voted today sticker. Today’s November 2, so I have four of my seven seats on council are on the ballot today. I have three incumbents running one open seat. And for folks who are who are running to fill a seat as a challenger, whatever term you want to use it, this is one of those days where, you know, you sit back and you’re watching. I’ve joked it feels a little bit like I’m on some kind of strange dating show. Watching, figuring out how other people are going to pick, you know, the people that are going to be really responsible for overseeing me in my role for the next four years. So
Tim Fulton 05:36
and is it they are running for particular seats? They’re not?
Steve Schoeny 05:40
No, no, they’re all large. So okay, everybody votes in up, Arlington today gets to click on four names, you know, I will say, I’m really fortunate, I’ve got seven people running who, you know, I think are all running for the right reasons. They’re dedicated his community, they’re not out trying to throw bombs over one thing or another. And really kind of believe in Upper Arlington is a place that should be open and welcoming, and a great place to live and work and raise a family and all those wonderful things. And so I really do feel very, very lucky to have a really good counsel currently. And then, you know, no matter how this turns out, I think I’m going to end up with a great counsel.
Tim Fulton 06:24
And so do you continue to serve at the pleasure of counsel just until it’s done? Or is it? You’re like a football coach, and it gets renewed every couple years?
Steve Schoeny 06:34
I don’t quite make football coach money. Okay, college coaches, but you know, it is yes, I have a contract, I’ve got a three year contract. So it’s good, because it gives some level of stability, that, you know, I can go and push issues, and try and drive the agenda forward. And, you know, it’s something that gives Council a little bit of pause, if they should decide that, you know, on this podcast, I said one wrong thing. And they decided they wanted to fire me because I said, you know, they didn’t like what I said about how the the election was going or something like that is something to give them a little bit of pause, and allow them to make a reasoned, force them to maybe make a more thoughtful decision than a passionate decision, which sometimes you find in elective office.
Tim Fulton 07:23
Right? I would imagine, would you say that you’re then the administrator of the city, rather than how empowered Do you feel to make policy decisions? Or at least make those recommendations? And then have them approved
Steve Schoeny 07:36
by county? Yeah, I mean, I, I, I love using kind of private sector analogies, and this guy, and city manager, form of government works really well, in saying, you know, I’m the CEO, and they’re more, they’re my board of directors. I mean, that’s really fundamentally how it works. And so, you know, there will be things where, you know, you look at something you say, look, ultimately, this is a judgment. This isn’t an administrative judgment about, you know, is it best to do something this way or that way? You know, this comes down to how much you value, x versus y. Well, that value judgment, that’s really, really the elected officials role. That’s what the people are electing them to do. It’s my job to figure out what are the best options? And if there’s a clear one, pretty much they give me the authority to run with it. If there’s something where it’s a borderline thing, and it’s something that matters, then typically, I’ll go to them, and then obviously, on anything with money, I have to go to them.
Tim Fulton 08:32
Right, because they manage that budget. Yeah. Yeah. Talk me through what you can use Columbus as a comparison, but I don’t think maybe it’s the best one. But talk me through what’s unique about Arlington versus the other suburbs of Central Ohio.
Steve Schoeny 08:48
Yeah, you know, Arlington. What’s unique about Arlington is it’s what you’ll hear sometimes referred to as an inner, inner ring suburb. But it’s a really big one. So you know, historically, geographically, we’re kind of similar to a marble cliff or Grandview or Bexley or Whitehall and that, you know, we’re We’re completely surrounded by Columbus, essentially. And we’re landlocked, but we’re 36,000 people, it’s a big footprint, you know, is centrally located. So that gives us the ability to do some things like have some pretty big development and host some pretty big development, but still be really close to downtown and really close to a lot of amenities and take, take clearly take full advantage of our proximity to the Ohio State University and take advantage of being between the two rivers and things like that. But, you know, if you’re asking kind of what makes us different, it’s the combination of size and central location that’s, that’s pretty unique in Franklin County. Yeah, really, honestly, in all of Ohio. When you look at the Cleveland the Cleveland Cuyahoga County communities, they all tend to be really small, it’s very balkanized up there, Hamilton County tends to be the big spaces tend to be a lot more township stuff. And you know, there are a couple smaller communities that are similar. But really, we’re pretty big for a community that’s situated the way we are.
Tim Fulton 10:17
Right? Can you talk about what issues you tend to have to address or deal with that might be unique to Arlington, maybe because of the size, maybe because of proximity to the city?
Steve Schoeny 10:30
Yeah. So you know, being right in the middle of everything, it, it creates a number of things in terms of being on transportation corridors, you know, having 33 runoff along one side, you know, looking at the development of the western lands at LSU, the innovation, they’re calling the Innovation Campus innovation district, you know, that’s going to have a huge impact on us. You know, those are things that fundamentally will change how our residents get to and from where they’re going, the development, of course, trails, getting right on our doorstep a huge impact on us. And so it does put us in a unique place. I think one of the things is other one of the other things is really unique and really good is that our residents, are residents of the broader community and are full participants in the broader community. So you’ll find our residents in the important boardrooms, whether those are our corporate boardrooms or not for profit boardrooms, around town, you’ll find them in discussions about the things that are really impacting the community as a whole. So when we talk about things like the link us effort, the efforts to bring transit accessibility and real mass transit to the Columbus region, number one more positioned where it’s really going to matter to us. And to we’re also positioned, I think, in a place that we should be influencing it and really looking at how does it not only impact Arlington, but the how does it impact the community as a whole, the greater communities all?
Tim Fulton 12:06
Got it? Talk about your time with the City of Columbus as the development director and sort of the the issues that you face there, and what you see is different now. Yeah, well,
Steve Schoeny 12:18
I mean, I love that job. And I love this. Yeah, it was an amazing time to be in that position, because we were transitioning from when I came in, in cash, but with that been 13, we’re still coming out of the Great Recession, where we are still bringing in vacant and abandoned, so I have the land back under me to okay, we’re still bringing in vacant and abandoned houses, we’re still getting things out of tax foreclosure. We’re, we’re I want to say we were up around like 1300 properties in the land bank, and we didn’t have a land trust yet. And all those different things. You know, I was on something where Michael Wilcox was from the the United Way was talking the other day. And he was talking about how one of the big challenges going forward is the that we’ve absorbed all of that underutilized housing, we’ve absorbed that housing that was on the sidelines. And so when I look at, you know, what’s changed today versus when I was there? That’s different, you know, in terms of the jobs, it’s interesting, you know, I I’m running an organization that’s about the same size. That that’s interesting, you know, because I had, it wasn’t just economic development, right. It was, it was such a broad portfolio. But you know, now, I don’t have, you know, I clearly don’t have the housing and code enforcement issues that I had with the City of Columbus. But, you know, now I’m learning about what it means to have an effective fire department and police department.
Tim Fulton 13:59
And how is that structured in Arlington? Like, do they directly?
Steve Schoeny 14:03
Yeah, yeah. So I enjoy telling my kids periodically that I am the chief law enforcement officer of the city of Arlington doesn’t usually do much for me. But I do I do tell them so, you know, in the charter, yes. The police chief reports to me, the fire chief reports to me. Okay, and so, you know, we’ve got you have
Tim Fulton 14:23
the ability to hire and fire them as well, or is that a role of counsel? But no,
Steve Schoeny 14:27
no, I have the ability to hire and fire them. Yes. Okay. So, you know, having that responsibility, having, you know, it wasn’t just COVID that we went through last year, right. It was the social unrest and the reckoning that came with the murder of George Floyd and, and all that came with that and and dealing with it both as, you know, helping the community talk it through and wrestle with what it meant for the community and helping our officers. talk it through and wrestle with what it meant. for them in terms of how they felt they were being portrayed and in society in the media and their commitment to the vocation and safety of people and dealing with all that. I mean, it was tough.
Tim Fulton 15:13
So given the time that you were at the City of Columbus, you spanned both Coleman, the coalmine administration and the get their administration want a little bit of insight on like, what the differences were, they’re not necessarily about, like, what were they like as bosses, but how priorities changed for you? And then also, now that you’ve been away for a couple of years, how do things seem to have changed just since you left?
Steve Schoeny 15:42
So you know, it was interesting. So, you know, I talked earlier about the evolution of where we went from having this, you know, having our biggest problem be vacant and abandoned housing and lack of investment and all these places, and the need to kind of get stuff going. So the need to get stuff going, was really, the focus still the focus on the Coleman, when we were with Coleman, and when get there came in, I think he saw, say, I’ll give him credit he saw ahead of the curve more than I did. That’s why he was mayor, and I was just director, the need to start shifting to how do we think about not just getting the wheels turning again, but making sure that they’re moving everybody forward? Right, how do we make sure that we’re getting ahead of the curve on things like affordable housing? How do we make sure that we’re thinking further down the road in terms of Lyndon and Coleman, it wasn’t a difference in desire wasn’t a difference in belief, it wasn’t a difference in any of that it was more difference in Hey, the time, the time is different. So it’s a time to change our focus, because I call them would tell you all those things are important, too. Right? Absolutely. But where he was the timing wasn’t right to emphasize those things. And then when, when Andy came in and went, and he really got going, he was right to be saying, Hey, we, we have got to focus on housing, housing, housing. And so that’s why we changed the rules around the Community Reinvestment areas, so that we were tearing it wasn’t that everybody was getting CRA s without any kind of strings in without any requirements for mixed income housing. That’s why we changed all that stuff. And, you know, got that ball rolling and, and pushed for investment, like the the fun that the Huntington Bank, you know, we put that together with them. So, yeah, I think that’s the biggest that was the biggest change
Tim Fulton 17:45
And now that you’re outside, what do you see is different?
Steve Schoeny 17:49
You know, it’s interesting. So first of all, you know, a, when you step away, you make a point of not kind of putting your toe back in and letting folks do their jobs. And right, there was such a, you know, I talked a little bit about the impact of social unrest and racial reckoning on Upper Arlington. Yeah, the impact of that, and the impact of COVID on the city of Columbus, even as someone who has knows the people in those the rolls, I have a hard I have a hard time as an outsider kind of getting my head around how big of a shock to the system that must have been?
Tim Fulton 18:25
Yeah, well, it’s still.
Steve Schoeny 18:27
Yeah, it’s still it’s right. And so, you know, I think the emphasis now really is what I talked about earlier, in terms of those. And I don’t know the statistics that Michael Wilco said, what was, I don’t know, off top my head. But you know, this idea that we’ve absorbed all the housing that was sitting on the sidelines, we’ve absorbed all of those slack resources that were on the sidelines now hat, what happens next? And that really is the big challenge. I mean, so you’re seeing really good kinds of growth, I’m really pleased with how they’re finishing out things around krusader. You know, I’m really pleased with the kinds of investments they’re seeing I, you know, I’m pleased, I’m really, really pleased to see them moving forward with looking at high high capacity transit corridors. And that code is looking at, you know, how do we expand on demand service and those kinds of things, because, fundamentally, the Columbus region will succeed unless we force ourselves into failure, as we look at kind of what the future economy looks like, looks like where, you know, people are looking people are looking for affordable communities with lots of amenities. And for decades, that has been the Columbus store, where the biggest college town and that that’s what college towns are, they’re affordable places with lots of amenities. And so, whether it’s a work from home environment, or hybrid environment, or whatever it is, this region is poised to succeed. You know, we’re resilient In terms of climate shocks and things like that this is we’ve got the things that people in businesses look for, we just have to be whether we’re willing to accept our success or not. We got to, we’re gonna have to. And you know, when I talk about the willingness to accept the success, it’s, you know, sometimes people don’t like that sometimes people don’t like change. Right, change is hard. It’s a cliche, but it’s something that we as a community have to get our heads around and really deal with.
Tim Fulton 20:28
When you were with the City of Columbus, what did you feel like you were most having to bang your head up against the wall? About?
Steve Schoeny 20:36
Oh, gosh, I blocked all that.
Tim Fulton 20:39
Oh, good for you. Good, good.
Steve Schoeny 20:43
Two years of therapy, you know,
Tim Fulton 20:47
or maybe maybe this way, maybe? What did you feel like it was hard to get people to understand about the city and the things that needed to be happening?
Steve Schoeny 20:58
Yeah, I think the hardest thing to get people to understand is that it’s not a zero sum game. So I go back to cover my meds when we were doing the project, doing the deal to take them out to where their headquarters is now. And the idea, we couldn’t get past this idea that some folks wanted to portray that we were somehow taking money from the schools. Mm hmm. You know, we ran all the numbers in the world, we had all the data in the world. And people just didn’t want to accept that this could be a good thing, because they, they didn’t like the narrative that it could be a good thing, for whatever reason,
Tim Fulton 21:43
I would say that maybe it’s easy to understand. There’s this big tax break happening, they don’t see the additional benefit that comes down the pike as a result.
Steve Schoeny 21:55
Well, and and you know, 100% is 00. Right? So sure, we could stop giving tax breaks, and you can get 100% of nothing, huh. And when you do a 15 year tax incentive, you’re 16 eventually comps. And your 16 is a really good year. And if you look at some of the school districts down around Rickenbacker, you know, you could name some school buildings, the year 16 building. Because if you look at the development patterns down there, those communities that offered aggressive incentives, their stuff build out really fast, and your 16 has come on all those buildings, and they’re paying a ton of money to schools. And you look at other communities like Columbus, where it took the city longer to come around to being aggressive in their tax incentives, where there’s a lot of land that still sitting there vacant, that, you know, the schools are collecting 100% of nothing. And you know, that, whereas Southwestern schools, or whoever it is down there, you know, maybe for went had to forego 75% or something for 15 years, or when you’re 16 Hit your 16 was a good year. So it was your 17 and 18, and then on in perpetuity.
Tim Fulton 23:13
And it’s hard to get people to basically make that investment or forego that money, the 100% of nothing or 75% of nothing for something that’s 15 years in the future, because it’s so it’s hard to wrap your head around. And it’s hard to it’s why there is a compulsory Social Security system. Like it’s hard for people to say, I’m going to need XYZ amount of money when I retire, or I’m going to want to retire or something’s going to happen to me. It’s difficult to wrap your head around flipping that forward towards Arlington. What do you find yourself having to negotiate or work around or get folks to understand in order to provide for the community?
Steve Schoeny 23:59
You know, it’s an Arlington’s an interesting place. It’s members of the community are very engaged. They will focus in on big issues, they will want to really dive into the specifics of an issue. So you know, the big thing we’ve got going on is we’re going to be building Arlington’s first ever community center. Okay, and it’s going to be in a seven storey building on the side of the old Macy’s a Kingsdale as part of a three building mixed use redevelopment that we’re that continental is doing the other two buildings. It’s going to, you know, the the community center portion of it’s gonna be $54 million to what we got budgeted, we’re going to have about 50,000 square feet of leasable space in there. OSU is announced their desire to take a little bit more than half of that.
Tim Fulton 24:53
And that’s the commercial space not the community center. Yeah, yeah, commercial space.
Steve Schoeny 24:57
So they’ll put some medical office some therapy stuff in They’re and, and really be partners with us in the building to help us make it more than just kind of a gym and a workout facility and a senior center for older adults. So, as with everything, I mean, the big challenge is getting people to adjust to change, whether it’s adjusting to the idea that, you know, we’re we’re going to be more dense, and we’re going to have higher form buildings in the right places. Because that’s what the market demands. And and, you know, that’s how you bring new people into the community. And that’s how you get people who are aging out of their current housing to stay in the community. Right. And, you know, it is it, it is really hard, though, to get people to adjust to change. And, you know, the other thing that we talk a lot about is making Arlington more welcoming. You know, we we are not the most diverse community in central Ohio. And that, that is something that, you know, there are a lot of reasons over time for that, but it’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of, you know, going out and saying that people, look, we value everyone, and we value every perspective, and we want you here in our community. And, you know, so if you’re if you’re looking at private, private school tuition on the side, why don’t you look at moving your family over on the other side of 71 and sending your kids here and live in here?
Tim Fulton 26:28
And there is some historical reason for the diversity. Right? Yeah,
Steve Schoeny 26:34
I mean, it’s, it’s heard lack of diversity rather. Yeah. Right. So yes, Arlington was set up with restrictive covenants that kept out people of color and and, you know, Jewish people. I mean, it’s just, it was part of how high end exclusive communities were built 100 years ago. Yep. And that’s a legacy that we acknowledge, and we acknowledge we got to work to get past. Arlington is a great community, we’ve got great things going for us. But we haven’t always let everybody come in and take advantage of that. And that gives us some work we got to do today.
Tim Fulton 27:14
And how are you addressing that?
Steve Schoeny 27:17
We’re still working on it. Because, you know, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve looked, I’ve found another community and country that’s kind of overcome that legacy. Nobody’s written that playbook yet. You know, it starts with being honest about it, and having conversations about it and not being afraid to say what I just said to you.
Tim Fulton 27:33
Absolutely. And that’s why I prompted it a little bit of like, I want, just say it, you know, yeah,
Steve Schoeny 27:39
no, it just it is what it is. I mean, you’ve just got to acknowledge it. So, you know, we put not we City Council put together a Community Relations Committee, just over a year ago now. So they’re just kind of getting themselves started. To help us kind of figure out how do we do this? You know, how do we become more welcoming? How do we tell our story in a way that’s better? How do we invite people in, in you know, oftentimes, people say, well, we just need to be more welcoming. I’m like, and I’ll say, a lot of times, you can be as welcoming as you want. But if nobody walks through the front door, you’re not being welcoming doesn’t do you much good. Right? So you know, how do we get more people to be willing to and feel okay, stepping through the front door in Arlington, because I do think, you know, it is a community that really does welcome people. And I, I am always struck by the warmth of the people here. And it’s just a matter of getting folks to come in and understand who we are. We’re not a community without problems. Every community has problems. But we take them off.
Tim Fulton 28:40
Good. What else is coming down the pike in Arlington in terms of what basically what’s on the horizon?
Steve Schoeny 28:48
Yeah. So there’s a bunch of stuff on the horizon. in a literal sense, the construction on the Arlington Gateway project at Lane in Northstar, right on the edge of campus is going to be a big deal. It’s going to be the tallest building in Arlington. It’s going to be called the Arlington gateway for a reason because it’s right there at the gateway of Upper Arlington. And it’s, you know, it’s leasing up really well. They’ve got a lot of interest in the building. I think it’s a great location. So, you know, we’ve really made a lot of progress in terms of changing Lane Avenue. So it really does feel like the way in which we welcome people into our community. We’re remaking the Kingsdale area so that it’s becoming more of the heart of our community. You know, that’s why we’re putting the community center there. And that will that really kind of sometimes I’ll talk about I want that to feel like you know, if the city is a is a house that needs to feel like the kitchen, like where real people really come together. Henderson road is kind of the next frontier for us. That will be hugely impacted by what happens with us the link us initiative and efforts to bring high capacity transit to the northwest side of Columbus. So is there’s a line that runs olan tangy cuts across to get over to sawmill and whether that line runs across Henderson or whether it runs across Bethel that will have a huge impact on the Bethel road corridor. Because if you bring access to high capacity transit, that close to our northern border, and then you know, in terms of our commercial quarters, that’s the one that, you know really hasn’t been re envisioned to think about what it having it become what it could be. And if you if you drive it sometime and you look at it, you think, Gosh, what could this be if, you know, we rethink some of these kind of tired strip centers, and we do something in there are some things where we can cooperate with the city, Columbus to really address how that area feels. That could be pretty amazing. So the other big thing is we’ve got the company that owns Charlie subs, and BB Bob bought the old, the old CompuServe headquarters, building that was purchased by a Tree of Life Church to try and build a school and I gotten a long fight with city about it. And eventually the City won and said, You can’t put school there, well, that that entity bought the parent company of those two restaurants and some others bought that they’re going to move in there, they’re going to redevelop the site. That’s a big thing that as we look kind of, as I look 510 years down the road, that’s an area that I think is ripe for a lot of excitement. And a lot of creative energy for us to put into, you know, we’re we’re still absorbing basically all brand new schools for except for our middle schools, which is a big thing for the community, the high school is really is a gem. I mean, it’s amazing. So there’s a lot going on. But you know, we’ve, we’ve got a lot to chew on right now with kind of getting this community center project going. And a couple of the other economic development things we’ve got going. So we’ll we’ll bring those in, we’ll work those there’s a couple of other things, little smaller projects that are working sites that are a little more challenged around town. And so those things are coming in. And then the other big thing is, you know, how do we I alluded to this a little earlier, when about one of your questions in terms of how Arlington is different how it fits into this broader context? How do we fit into things like high capacity transit? How do we fit into things like the greenways? How do we fit into rack and five? How do we connect to core trails, because as that develops, that is going to be a regional gem that our residents will will demand to get to in a it by more than just hopping in their car, right? They’re going to man, they can hop on their bike or run or, you know, whatever their way over there. So there’s a I mean, there’s a lot of great stuff going on.
Tim Fulton 32:59
That’s great. And when is the community center set to open?
Steve Schoeny 33:03
So that should open sometime in 24? Okay, we’re, we’re in design right now. So we’re hoping to finalize the program sometime over the before the end of the year, but really kind of get locked down? What’s going to happen in the building and what floors are going to happen on, right? You know, we’re not gonna have a rooftop pool, it would look really cool to have kind of the rooftop pool, but that’s not gonna work. How do we work that out? Where do we put various things in the building, we’ll have all that settled, by the end of the year, February, we’ll get to kind of hopefully some schematic design that gives a sense of what it’s really going to look and feel like from the outside in it as you go through the building, and then hopefully break ground sometime next fall 18 months to 24 month construction period. And then you’ve got to think, then we got to think
Tim Fulton 33:52
I want to wrap this up by asking two questions. One, what is Central Ohio or the Columbus region doing well? And then what is it not doing so? Well?
Steve Schoeny 34:05
You know, I think one thing that Columbus and Central Ohio does really well, and is continuing to do well is to bring in new voices and new ideas quickly and without a whole lot of stodginess, for lack of a better term. So, you know, one of the things I saw this, I saw this when I was in Columbus, and I I continue to see it here in our community, and I see it in the broader community where, you know, if somebody comes in and that and they show good ideas and the ability and willingness to work them, they’re brought in there at the table, right? The community that’s about what can you contribute? Doesn’t mean it’s easy, doesn’t mean people aren’t gonna push back on you. It doesn’t mean everybody gets to see the table. But if you come in and you show that you can work with others and you can add value to the decision There’s a seat at the table for you. And I think that’s one of the things that if this community continues that will make everything else work. You know, in terms of what do we not do? Well, I think this is something that every community struggles with the pace of change that we’re facing right now, is so rapid, that it’s a challenge. And I think the other thing that nobody’s doing well, right now is figuring out how you return back to kind of conversation conversations where everybody’s energies level energy level from a negative energy level is starting to three instead of seven. And I think you know, that’ll be another key to success, if we can find ways to keep bringing people to the table and bringing to the table. You know, where, where they’re starting at a three, you know, everybody, look, if you’re good, you’re starting with a you always got a little bit of edge to your right,
Tim Fulton 36:00
there’s gonna be skepticism. Yeah, yeah,
Steve Schoeny 36:03
yeah. But it’s getting people, you know, when we see bad behavior and lack of civility, among people, you know, one of the things I’ve said is that, whether it’s COVID, or it’s the social unrest, or it’s all of it, or whatever, whatever it is, you know, whereas before, you’d have one person in a room, starting at a level seven, you know, two people starting to five, and everybody else is starting at three or below, everybody’s coming in the room, and seven. And, you know, if we can find a way to kind of have these big conversations with everybody back to that normal spread of the spectrum, we’ll be able to get a lot more things done, and really make sure that, you know, I, I firmly believe that Upper Arlington can be the model of a community have kind of an inner ring suburb, successful community. And I firmly believe that Columbus should be the model of what a mid sized region looks like, in this kind of distributed workplace environment.
Tim Fulton 37:08
Absolutely. Thank you for your time.
Steve Schoeny 37:11
Oh, no, I love doing this. I love talking. I appreciate the work that you do, and everybody down and underground. And I think this isn’t this isn’t just a suck up. It’s partially a suck up. But I do think that having to what I said at the end, having groups that are willing to come and facilitate conversations and have conversations is really important in the civic culture. So I appreciate everything you guys have, everything you’re doing and everything that Walker and the team at underground have done since since he started that crazy venture a few years back, so
Tim Fulton 37:44
well thank you very much. Thank you for listening to the confidence cast presented by Columbus underground. Again, you can get more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast calm. Please rate, subscribe, share this episode of The confluence cast with your friends, family, contacts, enemies, your favorite city manager. If you’re interested in sponsoring the confluence cast, get in touch with us. We can be reached by email at info at the confluence cast calm. Our theme music was composed by Benji Robinson, our producers Phillip Cogley, I’m your host, Tim Fulton. Have a great week.