(Posted Jan. 20, 2020)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
London Mayor Patrick Closser gave his yearly state of the city address Jan. 16 at the top of the regularly scheduled city council meeting.
The year 2019 saw a lot of moving in the city, not the least of which was changing the location of city hall to its current location at 20 S. Walnut St. The year was busy and prosperous, according to the mayor.
Probably the biggest change in service within the city was to the division of fire and emergency medical services (EMS). London’s EMS has been operating for a full year now and things are going extremely well, Closser said.
The division made 2,711 runs in 2019 and took possession of the Center Street station, providing fire and EMS services to the city’s north and south sides. The change included putting three new ambulances and one new fire truck into service. Additionally, medical staffing was increased and a fire inspector was hired.
Plans for 2020 for the fire/EMS division include starting renovations to the High Street station, establishing county-wide training partnerships for technical rescue, and establishing a community risk reduction program, Closser said.
Highlights for 2019 from other departments include:
The division of police performed 9,408 service calls and took 1,139 incident reports. Full staffing levels were achieved, something that has not happened for many years, according to Closser. The department also acquired new cruisers, a thermal camera, and saw the launch of its new smart phone application.
This year, the police department will focus on the perennial drug issue and continue to increase involvement and outreach in the community.
Sanitation ruffled some feathers when the department switched from using city-sanctioned trash bags and recycling bins to a duo of large-sized trash cans. The benefits are a streamlined collection process, much less litter being blown about the city, and keeping the service in house, Closser said.
The department hopes to purchase a couple of fully automatic, front loading trucks.
Parks and recreation saw a lot of activity over the last year, as well. The completion of the outdoor sand volleyball court at the municipal swimming pool, the additions of walking paths and a foot bridge to Cowling Park, and installation of water fountains and a shelter house at the dog park were among the projects Closser noted. The department also added two full-time employees.
Projects for the upcoming year include the addition of a splash pad and upgrades to the bath house at the swimming pool.
The street department moved quarters, giving up its old digs on High Street to the fire/EMS department and moving out to the old Ohio Department of Transportation garage just south of the city. Additionally, nearly $150,000 in storm water repairs and upgrades and $500,000 in roadwork and ditch drainage were completed.
In 2020, the department will continue the storm water project at School Street to prevent flooding at Elm and High streets, and continue to repair and upgrade as needed.
The water department gained a new superintendent when Anthony Rice was promoted from within to the position in 2019.
The department plans to focus on the ammonia issue at the High Street plant in 2020 and hopes to come up with a solution to the issue. It also plans to replace the valves of the city’s older hydrants and streamline its water meter reading process.
Following Closser’s state of the city address, council tended to business, passing four resolutions. Two dealt with the appropriation of funds and then payment to Allstate Exteriors for the retainer and work done on city hall in preparation for the moves of the city’s administrative offices.
A third piece of legislation allowed for the appropriation of $375,000 to begin construction on the gravel pad and structure which will house the biosolids processed by the wastewater plant and which will be housed on Ohio State University property near the Molly Caren Agricultural Center.
A fourth resolution allows the Board of Public Utilities to move on purchasing a used 40-yard, automatic, right-handed, front-loading garbage truck for $130,000, a considerable savings, as a new one can easily cost $300,000.