Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman will deliver the annual State of the City address at the end of the city council meeting at 7 p.m. tonight.
He plans to focus on projects and initiatives this year to improve downtown, clean up and revitalize neighborhoods and find ways to attract people to visit and live in the city, he said.
Other 2017 priorities include continuing to repave and maintain local roads using the city’s asset management plan and building a downtown “gateway” park in a vacant parking lot along Tipton Street, across from the old Blish Mill silos.
“Hopefully, the downtown park will get done this year,” Luedeman said. “I’ll be talking a lot about place making, with the parks department being the highlight this year.”
Some of the plans he will touch on are expanding the city’s trail system to connect existing pieces and a new idea for a long trail that would connect half of the city with the other half geographically.
“We want to get people out and about enjoying the city,” he said. “It’s going to take some creative financing to pull off, but it would be a real show stopper.”
He also will bring up an idea for creating a family and community center along the lines of The Commons in Columbus.
“Does it make sense for the city to have a venue like that where families could go to watch movies and artists can come in and play concerts, things like that,” he said. “And how would we pay for it?”
As part of the annual address, Luedeman also will touch on the city’s finances and what various departments have accomplished in the last year and goals for this year.
Instead of ending 2016 with a higher cash balance, Luedeman said that money was diverted to pay employee health insurance claims.
“That’s helped us going into this year’s budget because we haven’t touched our budgeted insurance money yet,” he said.
But insurance always tends to be a financial drain on the city during the year, so Luedeman said he will offer suggestions and options the city could take to lower its costs.
Another issue he hopes to address this year is how long trains traveling through the city delay traffic.
“We are working with the railroad to get the trains through quicker,” he said. “But there’s going to have to be some give and take from both sides.”
Conditions of local roads also are important to residents and Luedeman said the city is doing about 10 times the amount of road work they’ve been able to do in the past to fix and maintain its infrastructure.
“When it gets warmer we will be starting about $2 million worth of roadwork,” he said. “But we don’t want to stop until we get the roads looking the way they should.”
Along with roads, Luedeman said he is looking for grant money for a project to revitalize neighborhoods by condemning and tearing down vacant and run down homes and putting in or repairing new roads, sidewalks and sewers.
He wants to target neighborhoods in the Centennial Street, Euclid Avenue, Noble Street, Vine Street and Laurel Street areas first.
“It would be great if we could come in and do a block at a time, bring in a builder and rebuild those neighborhoods,” he said. “It would help drive crime out of those areas, spruce it up and help those long-time residents get the most value out of their homes.”
The State of the City is always an opportunity for Luedeman to dream big, he said.
“I typically come up with something that could really change the city,” he said. “So look for some surprises.”
What: Mayor Craig Luedeman’s State of the City address
Where: City Hall, 301 N. Chestnut St. in Seymour
When: 7 p.m. today