The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 20, 2022 3:26 pm

Verbatim: New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael's 2022 State of the City address

The Journal Gazette

Text of New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael's 2022 State of the City address:

Thank you for joining us today and thank you to GFW for sponsoring today’s event and lunch. Thank you also to Roman, this year’s MYAC President for his State of the Youth Address.

Our community, like every other community, has faced tremendous challenges over the past 2 years. I would like to take a few minutes to share some of the ways your city has responded:

The city successfully created and dispersed a COVID relief grant program, that infused $237,500 for local businesses affected by the pandemic. We put protocols in place to keep our staff and citizens safe so the city could remain open for business. In March, we helped lead the way towards normalcy. As soon as Governor Holcomb lifted the state mandate, so did the City of New Haven. Over the last 2 years we created new events, to bring the community together, we brought back Citizens’ Academy, MYAC, and more.

New Haven is a strong and resilient community, and like I have stated for nearly 2 years, I believe and trust that New Haven residents will make the best choices for themselves and their families.

2021 was a groundbreaking year in our community. Today’s sponsor, GFW, is helping us to build a nationally recognized economy in Northeast Indiana. As part of the Great Lakes Region’s fastest growing Metro Area our opportunities are immense. With GFW’s support, New Haven is capitalizing on this momentum to build a regionally recognized economy and community. I would like to thank John and the entire GFW team for being such amazing partners with the City of New Haven.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank our City Council: Jeff Turner, Craig Dellinger, Mike Mowery, Matthew Kennedy, Dave Cheviron, and Terry Werling.

As a former member of City Council and Council President, I know how hard each of your Council members work to make New Haven a great city. In 2021, City Council supported the administration’s bold vision to move New Haven forward. Your city team, the administration, Clerk Treasurer, and City Council are all working together to Move New Haven forward. Thank you, Council members, for your service.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank our Clerk-Treasurer Natalie Strock. It is a pleasure collaborating with her and her team every day. We are collaborating to Build a Better New Haven on a daily basis.

I have the pleasure of working each day with a dedicated team of amazing employees, over 150 strong. Your City’s staff takes immense pride and does an amazing job in providing services to you and the entire community.

In late 2020, we had a third party, VS Engineering, rate every section, and every block of our street system; a system spanning over 80 miles. The study confirmed what we already thought, we have large needs for infrastructure improvements. Needs that are far greater than our financial resources. We have developed a plan and have started to implement it in 2021. We will be investing millions of dollars as we get caught up on deferred maintenance on our infrastructure. In fact, between now and 2025, we have more than $35 million dollars of capital improvement projects planned.

The long-awaited INDOT Landin Road reconstruction phase I was started. This phase, costing approximately 4.5 million dollars, completely replaced the pavement from Powers to approximately 75’ north of the tracks, including the Rose Ave and Broadway Intersection. The improvements include pedestrian access, streetlights, and much more. This long-needed improvement will be a beautiful gateway into our great community and historic downtown when completed! Thank you for your patience as the contractor experienced numerous setbacks caused by soil conditions, the railroad crossings, and the construction of the retaining wall. I know that everyone - including myself - was inconvenienced by the closure of the road. Because of this, Phase 2 was modified to include movement of south bound traffic into downtown for most of the construction season.

In 2021, we paved Bremer Road, an important and often forgotten path to some of our local businesses, including Trelleborg. Also, in 2021 the back half of Sunnymede was resurfaced; a long deserved and needed improvement. Over three miles of streets were maintained by adding crack sealing, which added life to these roads to keep them from further premature deterioration. Our Community Crossing project in 2021 was the completion of Green Road from the entrance of Windsor Pointe to Willow Bay. And as promised in last year’s State of the City in March, Lincoln Highway was repaved from Broadway to the point, and was reconfigured for safety improvements to include a center turn lane and bike lanes, also eliminating the bottleneck at Hartzell with dedicated left turn lanes. For 2022 we will be rebuilding Woodmere from Moeller Road to the East Allen Career and Tech Center, finishing phase 2 of the INDOT Landin Road, preserving miles of streets thru crack sealing, and we have also applied for a community crossing grant to help us resurface approximately 11.5 lane miles of streets.

In the last 2 years, we are communicating in more ways than ever: a new website with easier access to public information, a vibrant social media presence with over 3100 followers, live streaming of Board of Works and City Council Meetings, and the implementation of See, Click Fix – New Haven’s 311 Online app. This app allows you to better communicate with your city staff about various things, from pothole reporting to missed trash pickup and streetlight outages. New Haven 311 is available to download and use now.

New Haven needs abundant, safe, clean drinking water, and wastewater disposal - essential services that are available at the lowest cost possible. The Administration along with the Clerk Treasurer and the Public Works Department have been working hard to identify additional cost saving measures and internal policy changes. We will not let up on looking for the best way, at the lowest cost possible, to provide these services while I am your Mayor, including my commitment to find a sustainable replacement for the previously agreed upon long term control plan. We believe we are close to receiving approval from IDEM to modify the current consent decree, a change that will save each rate payer hundreds of dollars per year in rate increases which would have been implemented to fund the previously agreed upon project.

In 2020 we successfully negotiated an interlocal agreement with Allen County so that bridges in New Haven would receive maintenance and repairs. This agreement saved millions of dollars for New Haven residents. And very soon, you will see the rehabilitation of the Lincoln Highway bridge and Main Street Bridge.

Our relationships with elected officials at the Federal, State and County levels provided New Haven a seat at the table in many discussions affecting our future. From GFW to the US 30 Coalition and Northeast Indiana Mayors and Commissioners Caucus - where I serve as Chair - our city’s interests are being represented and has an impactful voice at the table.

I continue to advocate for common sense approaches to government and for fairness. In 2021, I testified in favor of HB 1238 – a Bill to create the Northeast Indiana Strategic Development Commission - ensuring a strong region for New Haven and all of Northeast Indiana. When it became law, Speaker of the House Houston appointed me to serve as one of the 9 initial members, where I currently serve as its Treasurer.

We also worked with our partners, the Allen County Commissioners, to expand the Main Fire Station on Hartzell Road. This expansion opened in July and immediately served as a vaccination site and will also be used as an emergency shelter during times of natural emergencies like the ice storm of 2008 and the 2012 Derecho. This facility has been used dozens of times since opening for community and public safety training events.

Our Senior Staff lead their departments following our core values of Integrity, Community Focus, Transparency, Forward Thinking, and Drive.

Over the last 2 years, the Senior Staff Members of Team New Haven and I have reviewed policies, implemented efficiencies, and re-evaluated nearly everything your city does on a daily basis. And this past fall we had the first ever City Strategic Leadership Retreat where our Senior Team learned about servant leadership, and how to avoid burnout. At this time, I’d like to recognize Team New Haven:

  • Fire Chief: Josh Hale
  • EMS Chief: Doug Call
  • Police Chief: Jeff McCracken
  • Parks Superintendent: Mike Clendenen
  • HR Director and Chief of Staff: Elizabeth Hoffman
  • Public Works Director: Dave Jones
  • Director of Development Services: Rob Gutierrez
  • Community and Economic Development Director: Pone Vongphachanh; and
  • DebAnne Smith as the Mayor’s Executive Assistant.

From fighting fires to providing safe drinking water, from collecting leaves to plowing snow, from plan review to economic development, from protecting our community to growing our community, and from offering programs to working with residents to teach them more about how the city of New Haven operates - together your city team works hard for you every day to make New Haven the Best Place to Live, Work, Play, Run a Business, and Visit in Northeast Indiana. Essential Services, Recreation, Community Building; that is a typical day for Team New Haven.

In 2021, we restructured Engineering, Planning, Zoning, and Community & Economic Development into Development Services - removing silos and making the ability to do business with the City of New Haven even more efficient.

We have been busy meeting with many businesses and developers who are interested in investing in our great community. We also made dozens of visits to area businesses. These visits were to get to know the leaders of the business community and find out how the community can help them grow their businesses and in turn, grow the community.

We are on course to see tens of millions of dollars of outside investment occurring in our great community over the next few years. The redevelopment of the 930 Corridor from the New Haven Avenue split to Norms Point has been a focal point, including working with a nationally recognized agency to develop a blueprint to reinvigorate this gateway to our great city. Housing is being planned for areas on the North and South Side of the city. CASAD depot is scheduled to break ground in just a few months in what will most likely be the largest project and investment ever in our great city… for now at least!

We are also working on potential plans for the long dreamed of Youth Sports Complex. I can’t wait till next year’s state of the city to talk about everything that happened in 2022. Promises have been kept, and we’re moving New Haven forward.

As I mentioned earlier, the Fire Station addition was finished in July and the first event was a drive thru testing and vaccination site for the Indiana Board of Health.

Keady Gene Cove was not only completed, but phase 2 of another 50+ units is under construction. In Sep-tember I was honored to attend the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s housing confer-ence in Indy, where this project was awarded as the best new Senior Housing Complex in the State of Indiana for 2021!

As you probably saw when you arrived today, the Community Center Park is nearly complete. We held the ribbon cutting and dedicated this new park back in November. I was excited to see the facility being used within just 30 minutes of the ribbon cutting! As I have often mentioned, this will be the “Hub” and a wonderful place for families to meet.

The spec buildings at the Continental Diamond Tool campus were filled even before they were completed, with Sauder expanding their New Haven footprint into one of the buildings, and Lunar Distribution moving their headquarters to the other.

We saw a record number of new home permits in 2021 with 141. Almost the entire snow-covered field in the video from March is now covered with dozens and dozens of new homes, and the last section of Greenwood Lakes is now ready for even more homes. The number of permits is quite an achievement as the 2020 census indicates that during the prior decade only 348 new housing units were constructed! That’s 40% of an entire decade in just one year, and we have every reason to believe that this record will be broken this year. That’s impressive! We are growing!

As I also mentioned earlier, the contractors ran into some major problems on Landin Road, but we’re moving forward and phase 2 will be completed this year. The contract bid for the Woodmere project will be next month with construction hopefully this Spring and Summer. We continue to move New Haven forward!

Our top priority is the community’s safety. As I stand here today, I am happy to report that we now have 24 sworn officers. This is a 20% increase in the last few years. We also have added an additional full-time dis-patcher and updated our dispatch equipment. Body Cameras also have been purchased and are being used by our officers. As I mentioned earlier, we have remodeled and added onto our main fire station. The down-town station was also remodeled and is home now to an ambulance and crew. Both a new Fire Engine and ambulance have been ordered. The East Central Fire Territory was created and began service earlier this month, bringing additional services and safety to the community. And finally, members of the New Haven Fire & EMS Department were rightfully changed to the same retirement system as New Haven Police. A change that was needed to take care of our firefighters and medics - just like they take care of all of us every day.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are far too many things to mention here today since we’re meeting during the noon hour however, this demonstrates that we’re making progress, we’re growing at record speed, we’re working with great partners, we have a dedicated city team and we’re not stopping because we will not waiver in our quest to continue to make New Haven an inclusive, welcoming place for all. New Haven will always be a great place to live!

The state of New Haven is strong, but that does not mean that we do not face challenges. Where some see challenges, I see opportunities - opportunities to introduce our great community to more residents and more businesses. We will continue to lead with a bold vision for New Haven and our future. Our goal is to make New Haven the number one 3rd class city in our region. But we have only just begun. Our Bold Vision will guide us into the future.

Today, I am proud to introduce this year’s Mayor’s Choice non- profit. Every year I recognize a New Haven Non-Profit as the “Mayor’s Choice” for the year. In 2020, for the inaugural designation, I chose the New Haven Food Bank.

In 2021, in conjunction with their 25th anniversary, we honored The Power House as the Mayor’s Choice Non-Profit.

This year, I’m proud to announce Learn Resource Center, as the Mayor’s Choice Non-Profit for 2022.

New Haven is full of great people, people that give without seeking glamour or recognition, those who give time, treasures, and talent to the community. One who understood servant leadership was Bill Fritcha, I knew Bill, but after hearing dozens of stories of his compassion, caring and giving over the years since his passing, I have been amazed at just how much he gave with never wanting anything in return, including the acknowledgment of what a great man he was and what a legacy he left.

Like all of those who have given back by getting involved in the community, volunteering your time, blessing those in need with your own resources, or by giving back in another way through your own talents, we ask that you join us and volunteer like so many other special people have done. That is what makes this community great!

As you leave today be sure to pick up a copy of our annual report highlighting the accomplishments from each department in 2021.

Thank you for coming out this afternoon. God bless you. God bless New Haven, and God bless the United States of America.

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