The state of Havre de Grace is “strong,” Mayor William T. Martin told members of the city council Tuesday night during his State of the City address.
He spoke of the accomplishments in 2018 and the challenges coming this year.
“Our goal is to make our city not only a destination for visitors by adding tourism events to an already robust events schedule, but to attract new residents here to relocate here, by continuing to make significant investments in our community and our infrastructure,” Martin said at the Havre de Grace City Council meeting, rescheduled from Monday to Tuesday because of the Presidents’ Day holiday.
The city has addressed a number of challenges of the past and is prepared to fight the ones in the future, he said.
“Please know that your government and this administration are prepared to meet those challenges,” Martin said. “Together, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. I truly believe that the next decade will be the most important decade in the history of our city. The accomplishments and investments we make today will prepare us to meet the future.”
Last year was a “great” one in Havre de Grace, the mayor said, with many projects completed, a budget balanced and quality of life for residents improved.
Construction began on the long-awaited, combination middle and high school in the city, which was gratifying for the citizens and elected officials who “worked for many years to make this a reality.”
In this fiscal year, the city has spent nearly $450,000 on paving projects and plans to spend $250,000 more “to ensure safe, effective access” throughout the city. Nearly $100,000 worth of upgrades have been made to city parks, including a pickleball court, pavilion and lighting in Tydings Park, the Bradford Green basketball court; an ADA ramp and new picnic tables, grills and pet waste stations, floating piers with kayak access at Hutchins and Concord Point parks and to the Moore House property with new fencing, benches and signs.
In terms of large-scale public works projects, the city is upgrading the water treatment plant and water and wastewater collection system, has completed a stormwater management remediation to protect the Chesapeake Bay and is beginning a marina dredging project and pier re-decking project.
Crime is down by 3 percent from last year, according to Martin, more than 1,000 pounds of drugs were taken off the streets through its drug drop box and the police department has formed a police explorer and is working on cadet and auxiliary programs.
Havre de Grace was busy for tourists and residents, with a number of special events both city-sponsored and through the Havre de Grace Arts Collecting managing the Cultural Center at the Opera House.
A group of about 12 to 20 people from Havre de Grace are slated to travel to the small, coastal Welsh community of Mumbles, in recognition of the city’s newly established “Twinning” relationship with the British town.
“Many of these events have led to an economic stimulus for our local businesses,” Martin said, and the economic development office reported there is a nearly zero vacancy in the downtown business district.
In addition, Martin spoke of the daily work on the part of city’s public works staff, such as 1,250 water calls answered, 108 potholes filled and road repairs made, 55 water main break repairs, 33 sidewalks repaired or replaced, 37 storm drain issues resolved, 26 sinkholes repaired, 47 miles of streets treated and plowed during seven snow events and assisted with 55 special events.
Public works also planted 100 trees at Seneca Avenue Park, replaced about 2,300 feet of water lines at Lafayette and Alliance streets, continue the annual upgrade and replacement of fire hydrants, oversaw resurfacing projects, expended the Winter Wonderland decorations to David Craig and Hutchins parks, poured the concrete pad and installed the Gold Star Memorial at Tydings Park and collected more than 2,000 bulk items from residences.
This year, the city is planning several projects, including a downtown trolley system, an elevated walkway at the Joe K Trail, and restoration of and improvements to Lilly Run as well as planning and design of the Water Street coastline.
The city will continue to work with the State Highway Administration to address the Route 40/Ohio Street/Otsego Street intersection for improvements.
The city’s water fund will continue to be a challenge, paying the debt service and for capital improvements needed for an aging system, Martin said.
“This administration is fully dedicated to addressing this issue, not just for today, but moving toward the future,” he said. “This will require finding creative ways to generate revenue, which should not solely be a burden funded by our citizens.”
Revenue for the city will also be a challenge, especially when it comes to rising health care costs for employees, with triennial tax assessments showing virtually no increase in tax revenue for they city.
The greatest challenge, however, will be to continue to provide quality services to Havre de Grace residents, he said.
“But we will do as we have always done. This is what makes Havre de Grace great, our ability to face challenges as a community and to celebrate our successes with one another,” Martin said. “In 2019, I know our successes will outnumber our challenges. I look forward to all this year has to offer our city and our citizens.”