VIDEO Austin interchange to take on new look

Austin Landing area considers more than $300k in landscaping

The tax-sharing district that includes Austin Landing is projected to bring in more revenue this year, and leaders of the group are considering funding extensive landscaping projects with some of the money.

The Austin Center Joint Economic Development District is expected to collect slightly more than $800,000, about $180,000 above 2015 levels. The district will pay $300,000 to the jurisdictions again this year, with the Miami Twp. receiving $171,498; Miamisburg $66,801 and Springboro $61,701, records show.

A significant chunk of the JEDD’s 2016 collections – about $307,000 – is budgeted for landscaping to improve area around the Austin Boulevard interchange with Interstate 75, seen as a gateway to all three communities.

“The entire budget of the JEDD covers more than just the distribution to communities,” said Miamisburg Finance Director George Perrine, treasurer for the JEDD board.

“One of the things the JEDD board wanted to focus on this year (are) some aesthetic improvements, improving landscaping and such out around the JEDD,” he added. “So we have some money budgeted for that purpose as well.”

The Austin JEDD collects income and hotel/motel taxes and shares them among the three communities based on their respective investments in the Austin interchange, Perrine said. The Austin Center district includes hundreds of acres surrounding the interstate.

JEDD board officials are considering options as to how best address the interchange’s landscaping and left open the possibility of increasing the budget for funds.

Board Chairman Steve Stanley has said the communities “want to make sure the (interchange) investment that’s already there is well maintained.”

Last week the board heard and discussed a proposal from landscape architect The Kleingers Group. The most extensive plan – and the most costly – calls for extensive plants and flowers along Austin Boulevard on the northwest and southeast exit ramps.

The basin of those exits would also include trees, plants, flowers and grasses.

“What we have on the infields (of the interchange) really needs to look better,” Stanley said. “It needs to be bolder – and this is.”

The designs on the northeast and southwest entrance ramps would call for less plant life because those areas are less visible, said Lynne Nischwitz of Kleingers.

“I like the fact that it’s different” from interchanges in other communities along I-75, said Springboro City Manager Chris Thompson. But, she also noted, “we want to be cautious because of the price tag.”

That could be as a high as $1.6 million, Nischwitz said. That figure prompted board members to talk about options, which include “several functional alternatives,” Stanley said.

Aside from variations of the initial plan, Stanley raised the possibility of tackling the project a quadrant at a time or taking out a loan. But, he said, “I think our cash flow has to be significant for us to do that.”

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