State of the City: Ironton moving forward

Published 8:37 am Friday, June 18, 2010

On Dec. 1, 2007, I took the oath of office and was sworn in as the mayor of the City of Ironton.

I made a pledge to work diligently in efforts to continue our momentum and to keep Ironton moving forward.

At that time, I spoke about the new attitude and hope that we have for our city. I knew that by working together, we could overcome the challenges we face and move the city in a new direction.

Using that as my guiding principle, I focused on initiatives and projects that brought people together to begin the process of moving our city forward.

The past two years was about building the foundation for a successful future. The following is a summarized progress report.

It outlines some of our major accomplishments in the key areas of focus that include public safety, code enforcement, recreation, revitalized downtown, economic development, a more effective and efficient government and re-building our state profile.

I am proud that we have taken advantage of the unique opportunity to start fresh and chart a course for a new future. Change is happening and results can be seen.

We are a city investing in our young professionals and our youth for the future of our city. By engaging more citizens in the growth of our city, we are building stronger neighborhoods.

Major Accomplishments:

 Met with Governor Strickland and Ohio Department of Transportation Director in 2008 which led to the Ironton-Russell Bridge Bid Opening being moved up to 2011 instead of 2013.

Purchasing new police cruisers and updating equipment in all departments;

Lobbying and receiving $5 million for re-lining the aged and neglected sanitary system;

Addressing ordinances that were not being enforced in the past;

Implementing city- wide policy manual;

Received $600,000 grant from OPWC for the North Ironton sewer separation project mandated by the EPA.

Addressing flooding issues in South Ironton and installing back flow preventers in efforts to eliminate basement flooding.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:

By reaching out and promoting Ironton we have shown growth in the area of new small businesses with a total of approximately 21 new businesses opening in Ironton since 2008.

We are currently utilizing Clean Ohio funds for the following: Ironton Iron that has approximately 24 acres to be developed.

We are also working closely with an International marketing real estate company in efforts to market this property.

The Ironton riverfront property and adjacent port authority property is undergoing environmental testing funded by the Clean Ohio funds.

We continue to contact businesses and developers daily in efforts to improve Ironton and add businesses to our city.

PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE:

Constructed a new water tank which replaced the 100 year old tank and eliminated the loss of 300,000 gallons of water a day;

Received $5 million for the city wide sewer re-lining project which is the largest amount that the City of Ironton has ever received for a project and will address our aging sanitary system;

Made improvements to the riverfront by installing moorings for large vessels and eliminating erosion problems;

Received $103,000 for dilapidated housing in Ironton which allows for the demolition of 58 structures within the city limits in 2009, which is the highest number of demolitions in one year for the city;

Negotiated and agreed on a consent order with the EPA;

NEW CITY EQUIPMENT:

Valve turning machine and trench box for water distribution;

Air wrench tools for water distribution;

New police cruisers;

Implemented training for employees;

Mandatory safety meetings have been implemented to reduce injuries;

Managing workers comp. claims to transition employees back to work;

RECREATION:

New park equipment such as; swing sets, benches, grills, re-surfaced basketball courts/tennis courts at Etna Street Park;

Raised $70,000 for a Skate Park at Etna Street Park

Cleaned, painted, power washed benches, equipment at each park;

We continue to apply for grants that would enhance our park system;

2009 Ironton Street Repairs and Paving Projects:

Repairs to: Waldo Drive – Concrete, Seventh and Pleasant, Eighth and Pleasant, Seventh and Mastin (Intersection), Echo Drive, Second Street Flood Gates, Crestview Drive concrete repairs, Eighth and Railroad street crossing- concrete; Paving: Delaware Street, Thomas Street (Delaware to McPherson), Vernon Street (Fourth – Fifth), Cliff Street intersection, Patching throughout City of Ironton, Third Street: 1.5 miles of new pavement, Fourth Street (Park Avenue to Center Street)

Total grant funding for 2008 and 2009 is $7,336,800.

I am deeply honored and humbled at having the opportunity to represent you as your mayor. Building our foundation is only the beginning.

While we have momentum, there is still work ahead of us. I look forward to working with the members of city council as we move toward strengthening and growing Ironton.

Rich Blankenship is mayor of Ironton.