Mayor delivers State of City

Repaving roads, adding trails to connect Seymour, building a downtown trailhead park and looking at possibilities for a family and community activity center top Mayor Craig Luedeman’s to-do list this year.

He also is looking at building a new fire station, closing railroad crossings to keep trains from having to slow down as they move through the city and adding four to six playing fields at Freeman Field Park to increase its capability to host athletic tournaments.

Luedeman delivered the annual state of the city address Monday, laying out his blueprints and dreams for the city. His goal, he said, is to focus on making it easier for residents and visitors to get out and enjoy Seymour and to give them a reason for wanting to do so.

The biggest obstacle he faces in implementing his plans is funding. But with state and federal grants, tax increment financing and other revenue possibilities available, Luedeman said he won’t give up on some of his biggest ideas.

One of the issues he receives the most complaints about from the public is the condition of local roads, he said. In the past, the city has only been able to invest $100,000 to $200,000 a year in repairing and repaving roads.

“Realistically, we should be doing $1.5 to $2 million a year just to maintain what we’ve got,” he said.

Last year, with additional state and federal road funding, the city was able to complete the first phase of a project to reconstruct West Second Street, repave Burkart Boulevard and Westgate Road and create a new section of paved multipurpose trail along Burkart Boulevard.

Using an asset management program implemented by city engineer Nathan Frey in 2015, Seymour’s overall road rating is currently around 4.7 out of 10. Luedeman said he hopes to increase that rating to 6.5 by the end of 2017.

His aggressive plan includes repaving 57 streets for a total of nine miles of new asphalt this year. The cost is around $2 million, and it’s being paid for through a bond the city issued last year and a state Community Crossings grant.

“That’s a record. We have never paved that many streets at one time,” he told city council members, department heads and members of the public who attended the meeting. “You’re going to see a lot of work being done this year.”

Along with repaving roads, Luedeman is pushing for more trail development to connect all areas of the city, giving people an option of walking or riding a bike safely for leisure, exercise or transportation.

One new leg of trail he wants to see completed this year will be on the south side of Fourth Street running from O’Brien Street along Cummins out to Aisin.

Luedeman said it will be a 10-foot-wide trail and will connect to the new trail on Burkart Boulevard.

“I think you’re going to continue to see us push trails, trying to get people more active,” he said.

Another project Luedeman would like to get started on is turning the VonFange Ditch into a multipurpose trail. That would require installing pipes to drain the water and putting the trail over it, he said.

“The VonFange Ditch in front of the high school goes all the way up to 10th Street, all the way to the river and we could pick it up out by Doc Sunbury’s vet clinic on U.S. 50, so you could literally ride from one side of town to the other through that ditch system,” he said. “It’s a great conveyance system, much like the Monon Trail in Indianapolis.”

The trail also would go along Kimberly Mobile Home Park and lead to Gaiser Park.

“You could connect the entire west side of town and never have to get off the trail,” he said.

Luedeman said the project is very feasible, and it’s just a matter of finding the right source of funding.

Eventually, the trail could connect with the new trail being planned as part of the construction of the Burkart Boulevard south extension.

Another idea Luedeman presented Monday is working with the owners of the old Shields High School gym property or the downtown building that housed Seymour Christian Academy and Little Angels Daycare to create a family and community activity center.

The school and daycare have moved to a new facility on Sandy Creek Drive.

“This is one of my dreams,” Luedeman said of the project.

He said by having such a venue, it would attract more events, people and other businesses, helping to revitalize the downtown.

“A lot of things are going to happen in our community,” he said. “It’s time to get moving and get things done for the city.”