City looking to ‘reset the vision’ beyond StellarJuly 18, 2019
By CANDY NEAL
HUNTINGBURG — Huntingburg is completing its successful run as one of Indiana’s Stellar Communities. But the time has come for the community to move on.
“Now it’s time to reset the vision, taking us to the next phase of growth in Huntingburg based on the foundation now built on Stellar footings,” Mayor Denny Spinner said this morning to the 60 people at Old Town Hall for his State of the City address. “And that process starts next week.”
Work on a new comprehensive plan for the city is set to start. “It is being called ‘Your Home – Your Huntingburg,’ because it needs to be exactly that,” Spinner said. “This is not the mayor’s plan, or the (city) council’s plan. This is a plan for your home, your Huntingburg.”
The plan will create new visions, principles and policies for the community’s future growth and long-term development. A steering committee has been formed and will meet next week. And on July 25, a public meeting will be held to start gathering information and ideas for the plan.
“As I have mentioned in every State of the City address as your mayor, I again urge you to be involved,” Spinner said, “and to act in making Huntingburg the best Huntingburg we can be. This effort will allow us to do just that.
In his address, the mayor talked about the latest projects that have come to be part of the city’s Stellar designation. That included the opening of Market Street Park in October; the May opening of the Crossroads Behavioral Health Center, which utilizes the former St. Joseph’s Hospital site along with the Lofts of St. Joseph’s senior housing; this month’s groundbreaking for the Wagon Works apartment complex on Washington Street; and the relocation of the street department from the First Street flood plain to West 19th Street.
And the work on redesigning Fourth Street in downtown Huntingburg continues to progress.
“Phase One of the project is near completion, and the east side of Fourth Street from Main to Jackson could be open to traffic as early as this afternoon, but definitely by this weekend,” Spinner said. “Work will then move to the west side and [that side, between Main and Geiger streets] is expected to be back open to traffic before year’s end.”
The mayor talked about the new railroad overpass on what is now called Progress Parkway. “The desire to have a safe way to move traffic through Huntingburg when the railroad track was occupied was met through a collaborative effort between the State of Indiana, the City of Huntingburg and Dubois County,” he said.
He mentioned the $350,000 Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority grant secured in December that will help 14 local homeowners make needed repairs to their homes. “Applications for the program that were received earlier this year and will be reviewed next month,” he said, “with bids for the work, to be done by local contractors, are expected to be awarded in January.”
Spinner also gave updates on the various departments, including the new officers and K-9 unit at the police department, the city’s busy transit system, and the infrastructure work being done by the water and energy departments.
The mayor talked about the work being done at the parks department, including the new disc golf course that opened at Niehaus Park in November. “The park installed bridges in the spring just in time for the grand opening and inaugural tournament, The Niehaus Park Open, held on April 27,” he said. “The event was a huge success, with 65 players in the sanctioned tournament and 15 professionals playing for the top cash prize in seven different divisions. Since that time, schools have used it for P.E. classes, and individuals are playing it every day, rain or shine.”
Work will soon begin on the construction of Northside Park, which will be just west of Hunters Crossing and south of 19th Street.
“The need for this park was identified as residential growth on the north side is happening and was confirmed by research done by the Huntingburg Mayor’s Youth Council, which was one of five student-led groups from across the state to participate in the ‘My Community, My Vision’ program,” Spinner said. “Through the students’ work, specific needs for the new park were identified, and a grant of $5,000 was received to help complete this project.”
Spinner praised the common council’s support and work for the city, and thanked Councilman Kerry Blessinger for his service. Blessinger chose to not pursue another term on the council. The mayor also acknowledged the upcoming retirements of Wastewater Manager Mike Kemp, and Safety and Risk Management Director Don Foerster, and welcomed their replacements: Brad Coomer at wastewater and Travis Gentry for safety and risk management.
Spinner said he is looking forward to what will come in the city’s future.
“It is very humbling that I will be able to serve the citizens of my hometown for another four years,” he said. “Thank you for continuing to place your confidence and trust in me and my administration as we look to enhance our quality of life, improve our infrastructure and grow our city.”
“I pledge to you that in this next year, we will continue to work to make ‘‘Your Home, Your Huntingburg’ what all of us want it to be,” Spinner concluded, “the best Huntingburg it can be. A city like no other. Thank you for being here today. May God bless you and continue to bless our city.”
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