WADSWORTH — Mayor Robin Laubaugh and city officials discussed Wednesday upcoming construction on a new downtown streetscape, financial stability and an increased use of social media during the annual State of the City address.
Laubaugh said the infrastructure surrounding Wadsworth’s historic downtown buildings has reached the end of its useful life.
“Our streetscape, which would be considered our sidewalks, curbing, parking lots, it was last updated almost 40 years ago, and the underlying infrastructure is considerably older,” she said.
Laubaugh said the city will soon begin working on a plan for those improvements, complete with conceptual plans that will show a prospective “look and feel” of the city’s downtown.
“All together the hope is that sometime next spring we should be able to do some construction,” Laubaugh said.
“That is a lofty plan, it is a lot to do, but it is something that I think will be really well received and really improve our downtown for the future.”
As for Wadsworth’s financial strength, Laubaugh credited City Auditor Cathy Fix, Treasurer Lisa Jones and the city’s financial team with their conservative fiscal approach for putting Wadsworth in a solid position.
“We present a balanced budget to City Council each year,” Laubaugh said during the Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.
The city hasa budget of nearly $100 million, more than 80 accounts with positive balances and a healthy reserve fund, Laubaugh said.
“We continue to do more with less,” she said. “We have not had an increase in our income tax to benefit the general fund of the city since 1982.”
Laubaugh said the city has also opted to designate a full-time economic development director.
“We are very grateful, City Council has been very supportive in this effort,” she said. “We recognize the importance of economic development within a city.”
Laubaugh said the city saw $16.5 million in capital investment during 2018.
Public Service Director Robert Patrick cited the opening of the city’s Interurban Trail last October, and the new Trolley Line Park on Silvercrest Road as positive investments in the city that speak to quality of life.
Patrick said the Trolley House will be open to the public, and is also available for event rentals.
More improvements are planned for the trail this year, he said.
“This year we are going to be taking a look at that gravel section, the eastern one-mile and doing some improvements to that,” he said.
Patrick also cited the Broad Street waterline replacement project and the replacement of the Holmesbrook culvert as significant projects for 2018.
The city has made efforts to utilize social media to keep residents informed of various city projects and how they could potentially affect them.
Laubaugh said the city has more than 5,000 followers on Facebook, an increase of roughly 2,000 from a year ago.
Safety Director Matt Hiscock said he was happy to report that police calls for service were down in 2018.
“That is always a good thing,” he said. “It is a representation of the community; it is a representation of the safety of the community.”
Hiscock said police calls are down by about 8 percent over the previous year.
“Fire (calls were) slightly up, of the three safety forces it was the only one that was up,” Hiscock said.
The Wadsworth Fire Department provided service calls 414 times during 2018, an increase of about 5 percent over 2017, Hiscock said.
EMS service calls totaled 2,224 for 2018, a slight decrease from 2017.
Hiscock said he attributes the number of EMS calls to an aging population.
The city has continued to work with Wadsworth Schools on ensuing safe school crossing locations for pedestrians by installing rapid flashing beacons, which have been popular in the community, Hiscock said.
An additional safety project includes the installation of more sidewalks in the Isham Elementary School area.
“Those of you that have been here for a long time know that was an old township neighborhood,” he said.
Hiscock said there is a need to get students off the roads and onto sidewalks in the areas surrounding the school.
The next meeting of The Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, at The Galaxy Restaurant and Banquet Center, 201 Park Center Drive, Wadsworth.