We’ve just wrapped up two years of projects totaling more than $30 million. The projects done throughout Auburn were very visible and impactful. While the priorities we’ve set for 2014 won’t be quite as noticeable to the general public, they will be just as important in terms of maintaining the quality of life valued by Auburn residents and businesses alike.
One of those significant projects is the completion of the Auburn Electric Utility’s SmartGRID. As a real-time communications network, the SmartGRID connects the transmission, distribution and customer metering functions to a centralized management system. We’ll begin beta and performance testing this spring. For most, all this is “behind the scenes.” However, once it’s tested and ready to be used, it can provide our higher usage business clients with energy conservation tools to better manage their consumption. Along with offering one of the lowest electric rates in Indiana, the SmartGRID is a key selling point as we seek to attract more businesses and jobs to the region.
We plan to partner with two business organizations in 2014 on construction projects. The DeKalb County Fairgrounds is building a new horse arena and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is expanding its parking lot. Both projects will require storm water upgrades as a result. We’re collaborating with them so the storm sewer work can be completed in a timeframe that doesn’t impact either organization’s timeline or costs. Additionally, this will help reduce the city’s combined sewer overflows in accordance with IDEM’s Agreed Order. Both organizations are important local and tourist destinations, making this partnership a win-win.
Downtown revitalization will also continue in 2014 as we work with businesses on matching grants for façade enhancements. As I’ve said before, a downtown is the front door to community. We’re proud of Auburn and want others to view the city in a positive light. Painting, new awnings and façade repairs go a long way in communicating that pride—both to residents and visitors.
Finally, 2014 will include some street work—starting with reconstructing 1st Street from Union Street to Main Street—as well as some “clean-up” from projects from the last two years. This clean-up includes things like fixing undue settlement, replanting trees and fixing drainage tiles. There aren’t a lot of things that need done, but what does need addressed is important to the citizens it impacts so we want to take care of it as soon as we can.
I think 2014, in its own way, will be as critical to our city’s development as the last few years. Thanks to all of our citizens for their interest in making Auburn a place where people want to live and work.