Mayor's new year's message
Now that we are in a brand new year, I would like to update you on the progress the City has made in 2016. Then, I will mention some of the wonderful things on the horizon for Cameron.
Projects - The City’s Comprehensive Plan, which was developed over several years with much input from Cameron residents is a guidance document for the city. It also outlines some of the things citizens would like to see that would enhance the community. One of those things is to improve pedestrian travel within the city. A previous city council stressed the importance of providing safer pedestrian travel on Walnut, crossing Highway 36. This project, which has been in the planning process for the time required to obtain grant funding, is now complete. The Missouri Dept. of Transportation paid for most of the project, with a City match of about 40%. It is an attractive, and more importantly, safer addition to our sidewalk system connecting businesses north of U.S. 36 with businesses and residents south of U.S. 36. We have already received many positive comments about the project, and it will serve the citizens for many years to come.
In 2011, Cameron voters approved a sales tax for street improvements. Many streets have been rebuilt with this tax, and the most recent project was the completion of several blocks in the N. Lathrop and Mead St. area. This work extended new streets and sidewalks that were done in previous years. We have many streets scheduled for replacement or repair, and there is always a bigger need for funding that what exists. But, the overall condition of the streets are improving, thanks to the willingness of the citizens to support the effort.
Cameron voters also approved a quarter-cent tax to support capital and other improvements for our fire department. Work has already begun to plan for new fire trucks and building improvements. This work will prepare Cameron for the future as the demand for services increase.
The police department underwent a major facelift this past year. A new dispatch area was created, which was expanded in scope and much of the other parts of the building have been remodeled. The staff contributed their own skills to help make that happen, as well. This is something that happens in the fire department and other departments, too.
Business Park Land Purchase – The City recently purchased land for economic development purposes, as well as to provide a single location for its electric operation, which currently has equipment and buildings in three different locations. The land is an asset with a current appraised value of $2,584,000, plus the economic activity it will generate over the years that will pay back many times its value. The value of the land is already about $304,000 higher than its cost. This is one of the best investments Cameron could have made, since we can now at least provide some land for prospective businesses and employers offering well-paying jobs. The land will need to have utilities extended, and prospective businesses will not magically appear. It will take some time and hard work to make a successful business park. The payoff, however, will be huge for Cameron, once that happens. This is an exciting opportunity, especially to those who understand the importance of economic development for a community. Economic development is needed for all businesses to thrive in Cameron. This benefits every person living and working here.
2017 – In the upcoming year, our police department will be replacing its patrol units and two other vehicles. The police fleet will remain in top condition and should continue to provide professional looking, efficient vehicles for the department.
Work will begin to route utilities to the new business park, which will be necessary before any business can relocate there in the future. Many other things will need to be done, as well, and the staff is ready and able to begin that process. Prospective businesses want shovel-ready ground as a minimum, with available buildings preferred. Our goal is to have a shovel-ready site within two years.
Our next scheduled street project will be to reconstruct Groat Street, from Eighth St. to Fourth St. This will be major improvement of new pavement, curb and gutter, storm sewers and sidewalk replacement. We hope to be able to do this project this upcoming construction season. The Transportation Sales Tax Fund is building to support this project, which is estimated at around $1,000,000.
Our trail system at Sunrise Lake will be extended with an 80% State grant. This extension will provide a bridge to cross the lake dam and about 0.4 miles of paved trail addition. In the future, the trail may even be extended to completely encircle the lake.
Two major improvements are on the way for travel centers/restaurants located at I-35 and Highway 36. This includes new buildings, new parking lots and expanded parking capability. As business increases there, especially from those traveling through the area, the City will see a benefit in sale tax receipts. These taxes help pay for our police, fire and public works services, among others.
We are looking forward to the development of a new program in Cameron, similar to Head Start. A State grant was recently awarded to make that happen. The old hospital will be converted into a nice, new facility, which will be an ideal fit for the neighborhood and a great use for an empty building. The total project, which will be funded through a series of grants amounts to about $1,200,000. This program is badly needed in Cameron, and we are very excited to see it materialize. The Groat St. improvements will go well with this facility, since new sidewalks on Groat St. will be accessible from the Start Smart facility, where there will also be new sidewalks. The connectivity will be a nice addition.
My list does not include everything going on, but I want to give you an idea of the many good things we can look forward to in the year to come!