By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
Big changes are planned for the city in 2013, according to Monday's State of the City address by Mayor Joe Wellman.
Wellman said Washington start changing in the first full year of I-69 and take advantage of the growth that will occur.
"Washington is well-positioned along that corridor for growth," Wellman said.
The mayor said he has met with landowners and developers along the intersection of I-69 and U.S. 50 to create a land-use plan for the space.
"That intersection will develop; the issue is getting the right development that improves our community's image and results in solid economic development and jobs for the future." Wellman said he cannot talk about specific projects, but said "discussions and planning are ongoing on several fronts." Wellman also said there will be street lights and stop lights in the near future for the intersection.
While not on I-69, two large announcements were made Monday. The first was the demolition of the old Tokheim building on the city's west side.
The building has remained vacant since Tokheim left Washington in 2003, and Wellman said the owners felt the building has deteriorated past use.
"While the decision has not been made yet what they wish to do with the land, some ideas are being put forth and will be considered," Wellman said.
Demolition has begun already and the building will be razed to the concrete slab, Wellman said.
The second large project announced Monday was the first of a three-phase water upgrade and expansion program. Wellman said preliminary designs have begun for a new water tower and related mains. Also, the aging main on E.
VanTrees Street will be replaced.
"These are being implemented to ensure adequate water supply for growth and sufficient pressure and supply for fire protection," Wellman said.
Construction is set for this summer. The water main replacement is the first phase of a three-phase plan to upgrade and expand the water system.
Some other changes to take place in 2013 are updates to the city code of ordinances, continued planning for wastewater, cleaning up vacant and dilapidated houses and inspection of rental properties within changing state laws.
Another minor announcement was the transition of seven homes in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program that went unsold will move to the domain of the Washington Housing Authority.
The program, recently completed, remodeled 29 homes and a tax credit program built an additional 50 apartments.
Wellman went over some the events planned for this year, including the city's Fourth of July celebration, Rail Fest, and an Earth Day celebration on April 20 planned by the new downtown merchants' group "Heartbeat of Washington." The mayor thanked the city employees and the council for their work over the past year, and their work in the year to come.
"But believing that the best answer to local challenges comes from what we can do for ourselves, I am confident that the future of the City of Washington is very bright, because we have some of the best people living and working here," Wellman said.