City's 2019 filled with projects, improvementsJanuary 3, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
HUNTINGBURG — The City of Huntingburg had some major projects happen in 2019, and 2020 will be no different.
“There is a difference in creating a vision for our city and actually doing it,” Mayor Denny Spinner said. “We have some of the most capable people on our staff and on our council that are taking what was a vision and making it reality.”
One project Spinner is looking forward to is upcoming repairs that will be made to at least 14 homes as part of a grant the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program awarded to the city at the end of 2019. The repairs will be done by a licensed contractor; the Huntingburg Common Council will review contractors’ bids for the work at its Jan. 14 meeting.
“This will allow the homeowners to make needed repairs,” Spinner said. “Part of the housing challenge we face is aging homes. Being able to help homeowners make repairs to their homes not only helps homeowners, but it helps the community at large. It is a great investment for those neighborhoods and for the community.”
Spinner is also looking forward to more public engagement that will come as the city updates its comprehensive plan, which has been named “Your Home, Your Huntingburg.”
“Eight years ago, we engaged the community in listening sessions. That led to our 2014 Stellar plan,” he said. “Now it’s time for a new plan. Huntingburg is different now than we were eight years ago.”
That work is ongoing, and has already included public workshops to collect ideas from the public. More public sessions will be held as the plan progresses, Spinner said.
Last year saw a sharp increase in the amount of housing available in Huntingburg. The workforce housing project at the former Wagon Works site is underway, and houses continue to be built in the Hunters Crossing subdivision.
Businesses are also moving into the city or expanding. “Recently, we had seven ribbon-cuttings in one day,” Spinner said. Along with businesses moving into downtown Huntingburg, he noted Farbest’s ongoing improvement projects, and OFS’ project to consolidate its warehouse and logistics operations from other areas into one building in Huntingburg.
“We have heirloom industry here, and they choose to continue to grow here,” Spinner said. “While they do that, we must continue to give them a reason to invest here. If we don’t invest in ourselves, how can we expect others to invest in us?”
One of those investments is the upcoming project to increase water generating capacity, which was finalized at the end of 2019. That will include making upgrades to the water plant and installing new mains under U.S. 231 prior to the state coming in to reconstruct the road.
“This is an investment in long-term sustainability,” Spinner said. “Our city is growing. With the new housing, this creates more demand for services. These are good problems to have.”
Another investment was the redesign of downtown Fourth Street, which was completed and opened in November. The improvements not only give Fourth Street a new look and feel, but also addressed stormwater problems.
“This was a long-term investment for merchants [on Fourth Street],” Spinner acknowledged. “Parts of the street were under construction for most of the year. I appreciate the support of our local merchants as these improvements were made.”
The city’s street department also moved into a new facility on 19th Street. Not only is the building much larger than its former home on First Street, the move gets the department out of an area that consistently flooded when the city received lots of rain.
“This move answered an immediate need. We can provide daily services without thinking about those [flooding] issues,” Spinner said. “This is also a long-term investment in equipment that will be more well-kept. Maintenance will be easier because all the major vehicles are kept inside.”
Huntingburg is ready to move into the new year. On New Year’s Day, Huntingburg officials were sworn in. Those included Spinner, Clerk-Treasurer Tom Dippel, new councilman Jose Dubon, and incumbent councilmen Glen Kissling, Jeff Bounds, Steve McPherron and Tim Wehr.
At Wednesday’s ceremony, firefighter Bill Bland was honored for his 50 years on the Huntingburg Volunteer Fire Department. Dippel was also acknowledged for his 20 years as the city’s clerk-treasurer.
“We have good people working hard for our city,” Spinner said. “Every department was challenged with different tasks this last year. And every department has met that challenge.
“We have a great staff and council working hard to do what’s best for Huntingburg.”
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