GUEST COLUMN: At 18-month mark, plans being made, fiscal realities clear for City of Logansport
We’ve invited Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell to share updates from the city in a monthly column.
“Make no little plans” are words general attributed to Daniel Burnham, the man who came up with a plan to build a sparkling city of Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire decimated its original form.
Whether Burnham actually said those words has been disputed in recent years. But probably no one can dispute the wisdom of another phrase: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Eighteen months into a four-year term as Logansport’s mayor, I can say we haven’t made grand plans, but we either have made or are making plans for 21st century progress that are realistic, necessary and sensible.
In keeping with new state practices, we’ve come up with a pavement inventory plan that allows us to maximize state money from the Community Crossings Program to pave some streets and repair others. This program brought $1 million in additional paving money to the city last year, and the city council has identified matching funds that could secure another $1 million this year. If that happens and we can maintain that commitment over the next two years, virtually all our city streets will be repaved or repaired to minimize future deterioration and costs.
Our city parks master planning process is winding up, and it will give the Logansport Parks and Recreation Board, the city council, parks administrator and me a road map for the next five years. It also puts us in position to secure much-needed grant funding from public and private sources.
For the first time, the city is in the midst of a cemetery master plan. The goal of it is to ensure that one of the state’s top five largest public cemeteries is sustainable financially at a time when Americans are more likely than ever to opt for cremations than burials and the fiscal impact is inevitable. Mount Hope is a hallowed place, and the plan will have a goal of ensuring that it ages gracefully as one of the largest sections of land in the city.
Our joint city/county effort to operate the Memorial Center as the first joint veteran memorial is moving forward with an application for $500,000 in block grant funding. The center already has $25,000 in tax credit funding, $60,000 in Tax Increment Financing dollars, $125,000 in city and county funds and an operating reserve fund approaching $10,000. I anticipate more grant funding and private donations will come in the year ahead.
Fiscal planning has been one of the most important developments of all. The civil city retained Umbaugh & Associates of Mishawaka last year. The data it has generated has given city officials a clear picture of what our finances are and what the impact of state mandates are on what we ultimately receive from the state. This year, Umbaugh’s Eric Walsh played a pivotal role in providing fiscal information on the Logansport Municipal Utilities.
Some plans are not as formalized, however. Councilman Dave Morris and Utility Service Board members Mike Laird and Mark Bender are working on plans to secure a solar field for the community utilizing the former Trelleborg plant property. Our Hometown Collaboration Initiative group continues to work through the process of envisioning what a future Logansport will look like and how we can make it a reality. Public safety employees are working with us on a plan to place more AED units in city buildings, to increase trail safety and to provide safe corridors for children to walk to and from school.
In the big picture, the plan we must execute now is one that attracts new tenants for both the Marsh store sites and the Logansport Mall as J.C. Penney’s closes its doors after more than 90 years in our community. We have to be able to attract and retain skilled workers and find them adequate housing options. We have to continue initiatives downtown where 10 businesses opened last year. We have to continue to pursue energy efficiency and smart government practices that make our city a model for others.
We have to continue to work with our counterparts in county government with a goal of making Logansport the best city its size not just in Indiana, but the Midwest. We may not have mountains or oceans, but what we do have is a strong school system, a hospital that is rapidly investing in its own mission, a legacy of community service organizations and a local fiscal approach that strives to prevent debt and tax increases.
If you haven’t rolled your sleeves up yet, please join us in making the city the best it’s been in your lifetime. Plan to see it happen, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that together, we will not fail.