By Norm Yoder, Mayor, City of Auburn
If one word were to sum up Auburn in 2018, I think it would be revitalization. Throughout the city, we strived to bring new life and vitality.
This was most visible with the Sixth and Main Street Revitalization Project. This project, funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs, brought new streetscape features, landscaping, storm sewer and road improvements—and much more. And perhaps most importantly, it demonstrated the power of collaboration between city and state agencies and private business owners and contractors. Everyone involved should feel very proud of the end result, as well as the process for achieving it.
In 2018, the city’s infrastructure was also improved in a few other critical ways:
- Implementation of multi-year streetlight upgrade program for downtown and other primary corridors
- Resurfacing and repair of streets, including Auburn Hills, Division Street between 7th – 15th, 1st Street, and Cedar Creek to Cleveland
- Renovation of several sewer lines that were well past their prime, as well as new sewer and water lines to extend infrastructure to the soccer fields near Rieke Park
- Renovation on our south water plant
It’s worth noting that we were able to accomplish many of these infrastructure improvements because of matching grant programs from the Indiana Department of Transportation. INDOT funds allowed us to leverage our money to do more work—more comprehensive, far-reaching work than we would have been able to do on our own.
I’m also proud that Auburn Essential Services (AES) saw record growth in 2018. AES completed reinvestment in core network upgrades to maintain and improve system performance for many years.
Perhaps one of the most important ways I saw revitalization is the least tangible. Thanks to public-private collaboration and the efforts of Auburn Main Street, Downtown Auburn Business Association and many others, there is growing excitement about living and working in Auburn. All of it combined has taken the love for our great community to a new level!
Next Up in 2019
2019 holds much of the same for Auburn. We’ll be applying for more INDOT matching grants in January. If awarded, we plan to use funds to widen the intersection of Auburn Drive and Wayne Street, as well as complete needed street work on Touring, between 15th and 7th Streets.
In the spring, the city plans to build a trail connection from the Rieke Trail to the YMCA soccer complex on the city’s northwest side—something I think the public will value for years to come.
Our sewer infrastructure will continue to be a focus in 2019. Specifically, we’re planning a sewer separation project (Union Street from 1st to 6th Street) that will bring Auburn to 98 percent compliance with a federal order to eliminate flow of untreated sewage into Cedar Creek during rainstorms. Best of all, we’re going to be able to accomplish this at a cost much less than the original estimate.
The water department will be installing new water meters and Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for all water customers. This project is similar to the electric AMI project implemented several years ago. We’ll leverage the city’s fiber to the home/business infrastructure to ensure accurate readings of water usage, read and monitor the usage remotely—in real time—and provide higher quality, added efficiency and quicker service.
Auburn Electric will also be busy throughout 2019 with several projects, including readying new subdivisions, as well as burying electrical lines as opportunities arise (similar to what was done as part of the Sixth and Main Street Revitalization Project). The department also has several system and customer-facing improvement projects planned for 2019.
In addition, there will be continued investment in AES to completely upgrade fiber to the premise infrastructure in each business and home connected to Your Community Network. Plus, new and enhanced service offerings will be available in 2019.
Not all improvements in 2019 are bricks and mortar. We’re also adding one new hire to the Auburn Fire Department and added compensation for the Auburn Police Department. As our city continues to grow, we want to be able to maintain quick response times and quality service. This requires feet on the ground who can really make a difference.
Finally, on my “wish list” is a skate park/outdoor fitness rec area on the old pool site. I have a committee of community members and skateboarders who are helping me with the early planning stages. And before I leave office, I’d also like to complete a new park-like area along Cedar Creek, east of downtown. It may include a veteran’s memorial, pavilion and possibly a farmer’s market and canoe launching site. The American Legion, Auburn Main Street and City are all involved in this “work in progress.”
As we set our sights on 2019, I look forward to taking the spirit of revitalization and community with us. This past year set the bar in many ways and I believe collaboration and cooperation among multiple city stakeholders will become the standard as we continue to invest in our great city.