Read time: 6 minutes.

I want to discuss gas meters in the Village, but first, let’s have some fun. To be effective preservationists, we also have to be futurists. So, let’s do a little exercise: What would your life be like in German Village in 2060? Stay with me here while I take you on a ride, not back in time where we preservationists normally go, but forward in time, to an imaginary future in German Village.

It is 2060. You just woke up in your quaint brick cottage that looks pretty much like it did when it was first built 200 hundred years ago, thanks to the Historic District Commission. You look out the front windows onto a sunny winter’s day, the ground covered in last night’s heavy snow. Your sidewalk is already clear thanks to the embedded tubing they hooked into the geothermal heating and cooling system you share with your neighbors on the block. It was installed in your alley back in 2026 and is still functioning beautifully.

 You glance at your communication device, run via community wifi. Such became a ‘public utility’ in 2025, funded by your city tax. It appears the snow does not hamper the AP’s (short for ‘AutoPorts’, the autonomous vehicles we all now use for transport) so you will get to work on time.

 Out the door you go to catch the AP at your sandstone curb. Your neighbor is in the port directly behind yours. You wave and hop in, on your way to the node on Livingston. It was a bit controversial when Tesla had to lay the sensors the AP’s run on in the brick streets, but they were able to do so along the same path as the old trolley rails, a nod to the past. You remind yourself to Google ‘trolley’ when you have a minute.

 At the Livingston node, you hop out and directly into the MultiPort (“MP’s”) that will take you out to Pataskala and your job at Amazon HQ. As it pulls out you glance out the window at the clear blue sky over German Village, a view unencumbered by those old utility lines. The wooden poles were ceremoniously pulled up for the last time in 2030 when the final homes were declared net-zero efficient. At the request of the German Village Society on behalf of the neighborhood, a tree was planted in each hole as the poles came up.

 The sun is glinting off the roofs, the majority of them appear to be the old slate, but a closer inspection reveals them to be the slate-like design Tesla developed and tested in cooperation with the German Village Society back in 2024. Retro-fitting solar into one of the nation’s premier historic districts with some of the strongest design controls in the country when it to comes to retaining historic integrity was a challenge. Tesla embraced that challenge. Eventually, after a few community meetings in the old Fest Hall, the Commission did too.

 At days end, you emerge from the AP at your stoop, forget you needed some veges for dinner and opt to walk over to the Platz where the mid-week farmers market is in full swing. You walk along smooth brick sidewalks, the result of a wildly successful crowd-funding campaign, launched by a not-to-be-named resident celebrity who tripped and rearranged his very expensive facelift in a sidewalk fall back in 2020. Out of the funds, an endowment was created to repair and maintain the sidewalks in perpetuity, by everyone in the district, for everyone in the district. The cries of ‘Socialism!” was loud, but the frail-knees-of-a-certain-age crowd won out in the end.

 You pass an elderly couple, a young mother with twins in tow, some young chipsters (chip-off-the-old-block teens), all on your way to the market where you meet and mingle over fresh turnips, glorious fresh flowers, and of course the latest hops based brews, now considered one of the five food groups by the FDA. All goods have been grown at the indoor vertical farms that were built inside the old Fortner complex on South High way back in ’21.

 Later that evening you walk over to the ArtHouse, located in what is said to have been a grocery store down on Whittier, to retrieve your daughter who is taking a pottery class. Inside you see some old friends laughing and sharing examples of their slightly suggestive origami. From the rear of the building, you can hear giggling and the bass thumping as a group of 10 yr olds participate in a retro dance class, something called Hip-Hop.

 Walking home in the evening light, you and your daughter have to dodge a couple of fat-tire bicyclists on a late night spin through the snowy bike lanes that take up half the streets. They are a bone-of-contention for neighbors who argue back and forth over these throw-backs and how intrusive they are in the district. The cyclists have won thus far, noting how healthy and fun the activity is. You and your daughter share a laugh over the ‘pet lanes’ they once tried to get installed, to disastrous results.

 Once home you call some girlfriends and grab a bottle of Jill Daniels, a gift from a distillery opened up over in Yellow Springs back in 2023 by some fourth gen feminists with proceeds from a Jack Daniels stock buy out. You retreat back to the library at the rear of your property. It was converted from a garage immediately following the banishment of cars from the district in 2028 when the APs began providing full coverage. You still own one, a vintage electric van, for nostalgia and cross-country trips, but it is stored in the car houses down on South 23, next to the MP node, with hundreds of others.

 As you walk out your back door, you pass the garden beds, sleeping in the snow, and remember to make an appointment at the Farmacy to update your medicinal herb prescription for the year. You can just smell the scent of spring…just around the corner…

 Ok, back to 2018 we go… What does your vision of German Village look like for 2060?  Envisioning the future makes us better preservationists today.

About those gas meters: we have received the routes in the district that Columbia Gas will be upgrading over the course of the next 12 months. You can find out if your home is on the list by going to our website here: https://germanvillage.com/2018-german-village-columbia-gas-planned-work-routes-schedules/

As you are probably aware, the German Village Society and Columbia Gas became partners in preservation with the settlement we reached over our dispute regarding the relocation of gas meters to the exterior of homes in the district.

It is now the preference that all gas meters be relocated to the rear of structures, out of public view.  There will be some exceptions: if Columbia Gas cannot find a location on a rear façade that meets their safety rules and regulations, or if you, the property owner, simply does not want it back there, finding a location as far toward the rear as possible along a side façade is the next best thing. Locating meters on the front of buildings in our National Register of Historic Places listed district should be the LAST location of choice as to do so violates our design guidelines. If you recall, public utilities are immune from design review. There may be some addresses where the only safe location is a front façade, but we expect this to be a very rare occurrence.

Columbia Gas has also agreed to conceal any gas meters that remain visible from public throughways with shrubbery. They will work with you to do this to your satisfaction. Columbia Gas is responsible for restoring any hard or soft landscaping features on your property that are disturbed as a result of this project. If your sidewalk is disturbed by the project, and you are interested in restoring or repairing it or converting your concrete sidewalk to brick during the course of this project, please contact the German Village Society to learn more about our Sidewalk Repair Incentive Program. As a member of the Society, you may be eligible for up to $700 reimbursement toward the cost of your sidewalk repairs. You don’t have to be a member to benefit! Non-members can also apply and receive up to $500 toward repair costs.

It gets even better, if Columbia Gas has to disturb your sidewalk in order to replace service lines, they will also contribute the dollar equivalent of what they would have spent in restoration. Though this amount is generally only $150-$200, we appreciate their participation in helping us preserve such a vital feature of our neighborhood, our bricks!

Remember our 2018 mantra: Meters to the rear!

-Nancy Kotting