A group of local officials, residents and planners have spent the last several years thinking big about the future of the Buckeye Lake region, collecting ideas for key sites along the lake that sits just 30 miles east of Columbus.
The effort began after the state spent just over $100 million to repair the lake’s damaged dam, ensuring a future for the lake and the many homes and businesses along its shores (the work was completed in 2018).
The Buckeye Lake Region Corporation (BLRC), an organization made up of residents and representatives of Licking, Perry and Fairfield counties, was formed in 2017 to advance the ideas laid out in two documents – the Buckeye Lake 2036 Vision and the Buckeye Lake Region Declaration.
“As properties are brought up for development in the Buckeye Lake Region,” explains Mike Fornataro, BLRC Executive Director, the group “offers, when needed, to assist with with visionary designs by bringing resources – in the form of creative and talented companies – into the process for the benefit of the community.”
The latest property to get the visionary design treatment is a 2.5-acre piece of land near Sellers Point on the north shore of the lake.
Columbus-based firms Realm Collaborative and MS Consultants both came up with plans for the site and presented them to the community last month.
The Realm Collaborative plan suggests that the lake’s existing spillway could be covered and converted into a public beach area. A 500-foot section of the historic Ohio and Erie Canal (the lake was originally created in the 1820s to feed the canal) would be enhanced and featured as the centerpiece of a pedestrian promenade, surrounded by new housing, shops and a boutique hotel.
The MS Consultants plan also recommends building housing along the canal remnants, to be complemented by a new indoor-outdoor farmers market.
Brian Bernstein, Co-Founder of Realm Collaborative, said that he was approached to develop the vision by Fornataro and Yaromir Steiner, the Founder and CEO of Steiner + Associates, who serves as a member at large on the BLRC board of trustees.
“The goal of this effort was to allow design teams to creatively consider how the site could be redeveloped to become an asset to the broader community and elevate the potential,” he said. “The design teams had little in the way of constraints to allow for visionary ideas.”
Some of the ideas proposed for other sites along the lake include a new community pier along the north shore and a variety of potential plans for a new neighborhood near Honey Creek on the south shore, in Thorn Township.
“The Buckeye Lake Region is not homogenous – different areas have their own identity – so other than being visionary, the designs are not necessarily related,” said Fornataro, who added that the BLRC will not actually be developing any of the sites, so he is not able to provide more information on which of the ideas are most likely to be implemented; that will be up to the various owners of the different properties. “Our purpose is to assist in guiding the inevitable incoming growth in a manner that is sustainable and meets the standards of the community.”
For more information on the Buckeye Lake Region and for links to the different proposals, see blrc2036.org.
Originally published by Brent Warren with Columbus Underground.