New Year, New Opportunities
2017 was a great year for the City of Clinton, which included the completion of 101 W. Main Street, better known as the Lawrence Young Building. We also brought in the GE alternative energy research and development plant, located in our spec building on Highway 72, east of Clinton.
We also announced the opening of a new Arby’s restaurant on the Highway 72/26 interchange, and in case you haven’t noticed, the city has embarked on a major landscaping project at this interchange, which will increase our visibility to anyone who travels interstate 26. We’ve also introduced a few new businesses in our downtown area. In fact, our downtown area has had more investment in the past two years than the previous 20 years combined. Great things are happening in our downtown, and throughout our city. And in 2017, the City of Clinton demolished 19 dilapidated buildings within our city limits with the same amount of money that we were able to remove only two buildings in 2016. One might ask how we were able to remove so many more buildings with the same amount of money. Rather than employ an outside contractor to conduct this work, the city leased the necessary equipment and used our own highly-qualified personnel to complete these projects, therefore saving taxpayers more money, and helping to reduce blight and make our neighborhoods safer, and more attractive places to live.
2018 gives us a new year, and new opportunities to continue moving Clinton forward. First, I would like to see the city continue this program of removing dilapidated buildings from our neighborhoods, which will increase property values in these communities. Last year, we budgeted $25,000 and were able to remove 19 buildings. This year, I hope that we add to our progress in this effort.
2018 gives us a new year to work on bettering our infrastructure. Anyone who has ridden down S. Broad Street in the past couple of weeks has noticed the construction crews digging holes in the street. We’re not doing street repairs, though. What we are doing is replacing water and sewer lines that have reached past their useful lives. Once the water and sewer lines are repaired, S. Broad St. will be resurfaced and will no longer be filled with potholes. We are thinking proactive by replacing what is under the street BEFORE resurfacing the street. By doing so, we won’t have to dig up the street again to repair aging water and sewer lines and creating new potholes in the process. A city without water and sewer is no longer a city.
2018 gives us a year to look a city owned buildings, and how to prepare and budget long term for the maintenance of these buildings. The current public safety building was built in the mid 1960s and it currently needs major renovations, due to deferred maintenance. I hope that this year, we are able to begin the process of crafting a facilities maintenance plan, not only for this building, but for all city-owned buildings. Doing so will give us a better idea of what to budget for annually, rather than to allow these small problems to build up over time. Building maintenance isn’t a one-day thing—it’s an everyday thing. Our city must take the appropriate steps to preparing for routine and planned maintenance going forward.
2018 gives us a year in which I hope our city finally breaks ground on its first ever city-owned recreation complex. The citizens of our city, and our youth in particular, have waited long enough to see this come to fruition, and while these projects won’t be completed overnight, they can have a beginning. And it’s time to begin. A first class recreation complex will be something that all our citizens can use, and should receive a higher priority based on our citizens’ needs.
2018 gives us a year in which I hope the city is able to build its second spec building during my time as mayor. We built one, which is now occupied… and this is no coincidence. Businesses are looking for existing buildings rather than have to spend the time to do all the permitting and construction of a new building. I’ve always said that you can’t sell something that you don’t have. If we have an existing spec building, I feel certain that the city will, once again, be able to bring new employers to our community. This spec building is a strong investment in our city and its people. Economic Development and Growth are like a puzzle containing many pieces. This new spec building will be one more piece of a larger puzzle of success.
2018 also welcomes in our new city manager, Bill Ed Cannon. Mr. Cannon has over 20 years experience as a city manager and has already hit the ground running full speed ahead. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Mr. Cannon to our city and hope that all our citizens get the opportunity to know and welcome Mr. Cannon. I believe that Mr. Cannon will help us achieve some of the goals I’ve listed here, plus many more. I’m extremely proud that council hired a candidate with his qualifications. Our citizens expect the best, and I think that, with our council and Mr. Cannon and our excellent city staff, we most certainly have just that: the best!
(Bob McLean is Mayor of Clinton.)