The Oak Harbor Development Group is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, established in 2012, to implement the Village of Oak Harbor Downtown Revitalization Plan. Since that time, the Group has expanded its focus to encompass the entire Village. The Development Group has a vision for developing the Portage River waterfront, improvements at the Village Veterans Park, and a bicycle/pedestrian path from the Oak Harbor High School to the industrial park and fairgrounds east of the Village of Oak Harbor, outside village limits.
The Development Group had completed considerable research and determined the desired improvements indicated from surveys in the community and other successful projects throughout the State. The Oak Harbor Development Group wanted to create a master plan to graphically illustrate their vision, develop estimates of probable cost, and create a brochure for potential donors and other interested stakeholders. The Development Group engaged the services of Poggemeyer Design Group, Inc. (PDG) to formalize the master plan document, create a brochure for fundraising, and assist with public outreach. Public and private funding is anticipated to implement the improvements identified in the master plan.
History of the Oak Harbor Development Group
· Originally called the Oak Harbor Downtown Committee, it was formed by Lester Weatherwax and Valerie Winterfield in the fall of 2010
· Members included; Lester Weatherwax, Valerie Winterfield, Fred Conley, Len Gerber, Adam Snyder, Mike Stone, Chuck Stolz, Jeff Chio, & Jerry Christiansen
· Meets the 4th Thursday of the month over the lunch hour in the chamber building
· Exists to improve and utilize downtown Oak Harbor
· Seeks grants and donations to help fund community projects
· November-December 2010-Completed community survey on Oak Harbor. This survey is given to prospective and current business owners to determine the wants and needs of Oak Harborans
· Spring 2011- held first Community Clean up day- Over 60 volunteers came out to help clean trash from downtown. Community Clean ups are planned for the spring each year
· Initiated the downtown improvement loan fund which offers loans to building owners at 0%-2% interest to improve the façade of their buildings
· Started the first Downtown Oak Harbor Farmers Markets in July of 2011.
· Committee disbanded in early 2012 due to lack of participation
· Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce took over Farmers Markets in mid-2012
· In 2012 the Village of Oak Harbor paid for a 5 year revitalization plan under Mayor Fred Conley
· Step one of the plan was to form a downtown revitalization committee to help raise funds, awareness and to implement the projects outlined in the plan
· In mid-2012 Mayor Fred Conley called the past downtown committee members as well as some new interested individuals to re-start the committee and work on the goals from the plan
· The Oak Harbor Downtown Revitalization Implementation Committee was officially formed in late 2012 and began regular meetings
· The first project they completed was the downtown streetscape items in 2013. Donation letters were sent out in late 2012 and items were purchased in spring of 2013. Banners and brackets were also purchased with donations for 22 poles in town. Over $28,000 was raised for these items
· With the help of funding from the Village (monies that were set aside for downtown improvement) and Radiant Windows the group spearheaded the purchase and installation of seasonal docks on the riverfront in the summer of 2013. Several jet ski events were coordinated as well
· In early 2014 a brochure was created as well as a Facebook page
· The group adopted the official name Oak Harbor Development Group and applied for 501 (c) 3 status in 2014 with the help of McKean & McKean, as well as opened their own checking account started with donations from committee members
· Had an Apple Festival booth and gave away a kayak in October 2014
· Began fundraising in early 2015 and raised over $2,000 to pay for the flowers in the downtown flower pots for the 2015 season, $500 of which was from the OCCF.
· In 2015 increased the banner program from 22 to 34 banners
· Officially recognized as a 501 (c) 3 on March 13, 2015
· Helped to establish the Riverfront Overlay District which was ultimately approved by the zoning board and council in June 2015
· OHDG took back over Farmers Markets for 2015
· Had a booth at the Apple Festival and the Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration where raffle tickets were sold for an electric powered 4 wheeler from Schiets Motorsports, and OSU sign from Zbierijewski Metal Arts, and a Tri-Globe silhouette from Radiant Windows.
· For 2017/2018 the committee is working on playground grants for Veterans Park, wayfinding signs, additional banners, Movie nights, riverfront development, funding the downtown flower program and funding silhouettes for all banner poles.
· The committee now meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 7:45am at the chamber building
· Current committee members include; Mike Shadoan, Valerie Winterfield, Randy Genzman, Bill Eberle, Marilyn Sandwisch, and Dot Priesman.