Chamber head Steven Meeks works to stay out ahead of the growth of a de facto “downtown.”
Jackson Township has grown from a rural township to a residential and commercial powerhouse in its 200 years of existence.
Lacking a definable downtown, the township’s operations are centered at Fulton Drive and Wales Avenue NW. The intersection features the township Safety Center on the northwest corner, the Foxboro Square shopping plaza on the northeast, Buehler’s Fresh Foods grocery on the southeast and health care services to the southwest. The area is dotted with restaurants. Nearby is Township Hall, the high-ranking high school, the library branch and other community services.
“We tend to lightheartedly call Fulton and Wales ‘downtown,’ but I guess it really has become that in the sense that the school is right there, the library, the Township Hall, the Buehler’s shopping center,” said Mary Aaby, of the Jackson Historical Society. The society is located in a former schoolhouse west of the intersection. It’s essentially the geographical center of the township.
When it was farmland, Aaby said, the road east of the intersection was simply a steep hill young drivers sped down on the way to school. Fulton Drive NW now features lights and a pedestrian crosswalk at Wales Avenue NW. The township population grew with the construction of Interstate 77 and Belden Village Mall, and the Safety Service Center was built in 2003 on the corner.
“That sort of became a nucleus for building other things,” said Aaby.
Steven Meeks, president of the Community Improvement Corporation and Chamber of Commerce, said that was by design. A former trustee elected in 1999, Meeks worked with other township officials and developers to consider comprehensive plans and create consistency in the central area. The Marketplace at Nobles Pond, Mercy Health Center and the Y were built in the same style as the township’s Safety Center.
“We knew, because of the increased traffic, and then the proposed building that was going to happen, we needed to do something to try to stay in front of the growth instead of always trying to play catch up,” Meeks said.
Work on sidewalks, landscaping and state-owned roadways—made possible with state and federal grants—completed the transformation in 2010, Meeks said. The CIC and chamber continue to seek ways to improve the township by working with land owners and observing what is available for development.
“We’re always looking at better ways that we can promote our community,” Meeks said.
Visitors can walk along a boardwalk through 58 acres of flowering plants and scampering animals.
At the heart of Jackson Twp., the 70-acre green features a paved track, pavilion, picnic areas, a fishing pond, playground and numerous athletic fields. The park hosts a farmers’ market, Easter egg hunt, haunted hayrides, Holiday in the Park and other events.
The annual summer festival in North Park has been going strong for more than 60 years. This year, guests enjoyed four days of food, games, rides and other entertainment.
Field of Honor / Field of Heroes
Nearly 1,000 United States flags fill the lawn of the Jackson Township Safety Center during Memorial Day weekend, thanks to the work of The Rotary Club, Jackson-Belden Chamber, township board of trustees, fire and police depts., parks dept., Jackson Local Schools and other volunteers. The marked the fourth annual field of flags this year.
Buehler’s Fresh Foods
The Northeast Ohio chain was founded in 1929 in New Philadelphia and still is family-owned today, and maintains its mission of providing fresh produce and a friendly atmosphere. It is the largest purchaser at the Mt. Hope Farmer’s Produce Auction, which supports Holmes and Wayne county farmers, and also provides local meat from Niman Ranch and Gerber Poultry.