The focus of today’s column is to simply take a break from COVID and talk about what else is going on in the city.
While our Summer has been anything but normal, let’s take a look at the activity amongst our departments that continue to do the business of the city.
First, those annoying road construction projects that inevitably snarl local traffic in the Summer are back. INDOT recently began replacing all of the traffic signals along State Road 15 from Prairie Street up through Fort Wayne Street. Lane restrictions and some interruption of traffic flow will occur for several months.
Hickory Street will be reconstructed to one way north and south off of Center Street to limit traffic along the Norfolk and Southern railroad tracks. These important safety improvements have been planned for several years and will be completed this Fall.
Work continues on the 30 million dollar expansion of the sewage treatment plant that will be substantially completed by the end of the year. This two-year project has progressed essentially on schedule and will allow for continued growth in a system that has been operating at and overcapacity for some time.
Likewise, the expansion of service to the recently annexed airport industrial park has just been completed. Industrial sites are now able to connect to our wastewater utility for the first time. We expect that the city’s investment of sewer and coming road improvements will stimulate significant development and opportunity in that area.
The commitment of Nextremity Solutions, Inc. to expand into the Warsaw Tech Park was recently announced by the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission. Over 50,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space will be finished this Fall to complete the second speculative shell building in the park and provide a new home for Nextremity to grow and expand its workforce.
The need to improve safety on US 30 continues with even greater urgency. While some intersection improvements have helped at Anchorage Road and Parker Street, truck and automobile traffic counts continue to increase, as do accident rates.
The US 30 Coalition continues to urge state leaders to commit to a long term safety solution. Unfortunately, the pandemic has delayed several stakeholder and community meetings that had been planned to continue the discussion of alternate routes for the proposed freeway solution. We are hopeful that we can continue the discussion in the future either live or with some type of virtual format.
Construction has begun on a seventy-two unit senior housing development. Named ‘802 Center’ and located on East Center Street, it will provide affordable senior housing with aging-in-place amenities when completed in late 2021. You may remember this was one of the proposed Stellar Communities projects back in 2016.
Besides the annual budgeting, the Council is very busy looking at our very significant stormwater project needs and its current utility rate structure. We anticipate adjusting the stormwater utility rate to meet the great demand for stormwater improvements to protect our properties, lakes, and streams.
By highlighting the activity in our city outside of the critical COVID concerns, I hope it gives everyone a little pause that we are continuing to move forward through this and will emerge with many positives.
Joe Thallemer is the mayor of Warsaw and writes a monthly column.