A passing conversation between two Air Force employees in the spring brought Enon representatives in front of 19 Ohio State University students last week to kick off a semester-long study of village living.
The Springfield News-Sun traveled to Columbus with members of the Enon Strategic Plan Chapter Two committee on Thursday to follow the study from the beginning.
The city and regional planning students — including Greenon High School graduate Lauren Watsek — met with Councilman Jerry Crane, residents Lee Earnest and Marge Travis, and village/university liaison John A. Kusnierek to discuss their plan to ask what living in Enon is like now and how it can attract a younger generation in the next 10 to 15 years.
The study is unique for the university, Clinical Associate Professor Kyle Ezell said in a pre-class meeting. The students will need to find a way to attract younger families while maintaining Enon’s village status.
Watsek’s father, Darrell Watsek, works with Mad River Twp. resident Kusnierek at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Darrell Watsek mentioned that his daughter is a senior city and regional planning major at OSU, and she alerted the university of the village’s need for a study.
The completed study will be applied as part of the strategic committee’s update of its original 1996 plan, a nearly year-long effort by village residents and officials to guide the village into the next decade and beyond.
Kimberly Burton, president of Burton Planning Services in Westerville and part-time auxiliary faculty member, is teaching the course. It’s structured much like a professional planning firm would conduct a study, she said.
Not only are the students developing a study that will directly affect Enon residents, they’re gaining hands-on experience they can put on a resume.
“Do you realize how much doing a project like this, digging in and and doing something that’s involving a community, how much this could go on your resume?” Crane asked the student.
And it’s saving the village time and money it would have otherwise spent conducting a study on its own or paying a firm to do it. Burton estimated that a similar professional study would cost the village between $50,000 and $100,000.
Students are expected to be in frequent contact with village officials over the course of the semester, with the final report presented to council in November. A series of public meetings and community surveys will also be conducted.
Students have been divided into teams, each with a role in developing and managing a portion of the whole plan. Those groups will focus on public involvement, community identity, funding opportunities and project management.
The project goals are: to develop a plan to focus on the village’s interests and needs, integrate the plan’s executive summary and implementation into the “Community Living” section of the plan, and review other sections of it to suggest additional recommendations.
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