Our trails must have safety guarantees for all

Last Updated on March 6, 2017 by cassnetwork

We’ve invited Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell to share updates from the city in a monthly column on CassCountyOnline.com.

Logansport Mayor
Dave Kitchell

The tragic murder of two Delphi teens magnifies a concern for the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens in remote public places.

While police agencies and the FBI continue to work feverishly to bring the man responsible for the deaths of Libby German and Abigail Williams to justice, our role going forward is to ensure that similar incidents never occur on our trail systems in Logansport or Cass County.

We entered this year with the goal of installing new emergency phones on local trails. Additionally, our administration is now considering other safety measures ranging from the installation of trail cameras, lighting, patrols and trail markers that can alert authorities to the location of emergencies once a phone call is placed to 911. Together as a city and county, we have to guarantee the public that our trails are safe or safer than any other area of our community.

We are working on a number of projects this spring. One is the preparation necessary to apply for a Stellar Communities designation next year. Deputy Mayor Mercedes Brugh and I attended a workshop on the criterion and expect to begin working on that application as soon as we finish the Hometown Collaboration Initiative this year.

We continue to work on the Cass County Memorial Center project. Last week, we hosted a site visit by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs that is a necessary step to securing up to $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the preservation of the building. In the past month, we also received approval from the federal government for the creation of a 501c-3 nonprofit status that permits charitable donations to the center. A sustainability fund and a philanthropic fund have been established – both of which bolster our chances of securing grant funding and reducing the city and county burden of upgrading and operating the center, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

While our initial attempt to secure federal tax credits for the Logan Square Homes project was not successful, our efforts to redevelop the Logan Square building and nearly a dozen blight elimination lots are continuing, as are our work to develop the site behind Walmart where 30 town homes would have been built. We will continue to work with the developer involved because our application barely missed the cut for approval on a day when only 16 of 62 projects considered were approved. We also look forward to working with Peak Community Services on their housing initiatives.

As there continues to be interest in property at the Cass/Logan Industrial Park, we have begun working on plans to extend water and sewer lines southwest of the city to the Unger Addition and beyond.

Our Street Department has made it through the winter with little plowing to do, but big plans ahead. This spring and summer will involve as much or more paving in the city as we had last year, particularly along Broadway and Market. We will again be offering the city sidewalk and curbing program for local residents to take advantage of reduced costs for improvements to their properties. Last year, we exhausted funds for that priority.

This month, we also will be reviewing a report on energy conservation in the city involving our streetlights and buildings. It is our intent to pursue cost savings through retrofitting many streetlights with LED lighting. We also will be squeezing more savings out of some of the older buildings the city owns with a goal of upgrading energy efficiency through revenue neutral approaches.

As we pursued cost savings last year by bidding out our health insurance jointly with county government, we have reached a verbal agreement this year to bid out our property and casualty insurance with the county and the Logansport Municipal Utilities. It is our hope that this will lead to further savings.

In the coming month, we will again offer a free tree seedling distribution in cooperation with the county and the Indiana State Nursery. Distribution will be on Earth Day next month. On April 9, Logansport will host a North/South high school basketball all-star game at the Berry Bowl. Hopefully, one or more of the Berries from the 23-2 Logansport team that won the North Central Conference championship outright will be participating. On the last Friday of April, we will be hosting Indianapolis 500 historian Donald Davidson at a fund-raiser for Ivy Tech and the Cass County Historical Society.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised last week to be approached by a statewide infrastructure organization. When I spoke at their northern Indiana meeting in South Bend, I was presented with proposals to improve infrastructure in and around our city. One called for more than $31 million in improvements on the east end to build a more direct route to our east end from the Hoosier Heartland Corridor. Another called for more than $10 million to upgrade our interchange on the Heartland south of the city along Burlington Avenue. Last week, we approved the hiring of a Northwestern University Accident-Prevention Institute expert to help us with that dangerous intersection which feeds into the city and the industrial park.

It has been a busy first quarter of the year for our office. Even though we haven’t always succeeded with every grant application, we continue to work with people who want to be partners in Logansport’s progress. We remain focused on the big picture and doing what we can to advance the city to the next levels up in fiscal responsibility, employment, public safety, retail selection, cost of living and quality of life.

If I or any member of our administration can be of help, let us know. It is a pleasure to serve you and we look forward to forward progress in our city in the near future.

Dave Kitchell may be reached at (574) 753-2551, or via e-mail at dkitchell@cityoflogansport.org The mayor’s office is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.