$25million investment under your feet

Infrastructure. It’s not the sexiest thing in the world to talk about, but if ignored, you can end up with a disaster.

It’s also something that is hard to fully appreciate because it all happens below ground. You don’t see it the same way you see new playground equipment at a park.

But when a major waterline breaks or when valves at pump stations get stuck and reduce the ability to remove sewage to nearby treatment plants, residents take notice. Some lost water pressure or had no water at all, or raw sewage backed up into the basement.

One of the first things I decided to do when I was elected Mayor 11 years ago was to fix the city’s infrastructure. That was no small task because the city simply did not have the millions of dollars needed to make this happen.

We developed partnerships at all levels of government – county, state and federal – to secure funding to take on this mammoth overhaul of the city’s infrastructure. To date, we raised $25 million in grant funding and the city was able to provide its portion of matching funds through low cost loans or additional grants

Waterlines and sewers along the entire lengths of our busiest streets – Abbe, Harris, Lake Breeze and Lake Road – needed to be completely or partially replaced. In the past three years, this was done and new curbs, catch basins and pavement was also done to each road.

The valves at the pump stations were decades old as well. They are 30 feet below ground so most residents may not even know they are there. They have now been rebuilt and, as a result, we get far, far fewer calls about basement flooding after heavy rains.

Not only were we able to tackle projects on main streets, we also began repaving residential streets my first year as Mayor and it is an ongoing project. We have also replaced waterlines and sewer lines on some residential streets.

We are in the process of filling ditches in front of houses. This will stop debris from clogging them, causing potential yard flooding. It will make it easier for homeowners to mow and rake and I think it will look nicer.

The city used additional grant funds to purchase equipment so we could handle jobs we once had to hire outside contractors to do. For instance, we purchased a camera that allows us to video a sewer line. This allows us to see the sewer’s condition without having to dig up a street or property. It also helps us see where a line is weak so we can fix it before a break occurs. We purchased a sewer vacuum, street sweeper and vehicles that allowed us to restart leaf pick up in the fall.

We still have work to do and I believe we have a solid team in place to continue making progress to benefit residents. Mayor Dennis Bring