Mayor Todd Latham said the main goals for the city of Sandwich in 2023 are to encourages growth while making improvements to the city’s infrastructure and planning for the future.
While setbacks delayed some projects in 2022, the city managed to record more new home starts over the past year than the previous 10 years, appointed the first city administrator and moved the police department into a much-needed new station.
Projects originally planned to be completed in 2022, such as the North Latham Street improvements and Route 34 traffic signal upgrades, are expected to break ground in 2023.
When the North Latham Street project was approved last February, city officials expected construction to begin in April and be complete by September. Now, the project still is pending final utility work by ComEd before resurfacing or improvements can start.
Improvements to traffic lights on Route 34 were authorized through an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation and were initially expected to begin in July and be completed in September 2022, but the project timeline currently is uncertain.
Latham said in addition to multiple delays from construction companies and developers, the increased cost of labor, materials and utilities has posed a challenge to the city’s improvement plans.
A sewer study was conducted in 2022, and Latham said he expects the completion of a water study and pavement management plan in 2023, which together will help prioritize areas that need the most work and create a plan for improvements around the city.
Other infrastructure projects in the works in 2023 include the construction of a solar field at the wastewater treatment facility, finalizing the plans for upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility, and continuing the sidewalk improvement program.
Latham said he has plans for the city to invest in downtown area improvements, to pursue an increase in residential and commercial growth and launch other economic development initiatives.
After 41 new home starts in 2022, Latham said the city has a chance to duplicate that growth in 2023 although it may be difficult as rising interest rates and home costs have made new homes less affordable for some buyers.
Latham said the city also has plans for a downtown food truck festival in the spring.
Police Chief Jim Bianchi is looking to put the finishing touches on his department’s new police station and begin operating at full strength in the new year.
Police department staff finished moving into their new public safety building at 1251 E. Sixth St. last month and the department is running nearly all operations out of the new facility.
The department purchased the former Design Stairs building and adjoining two acres in 2016 for about $500,000. After more than $3,000,000 in renovations, the building is open and operational.
Bianchi said the only work left to be done is information technology connections to be installed by the state to allow the use of the new lockup and detention area.
Bianchi said he believes the new facility will be able to accommodate his department for the next 50 years, at least, with plenty of space to grow.
Bianchi said he is hoping to implement in-car and body cameras in 2023, and his main goal will be adding personnel to bring the department to full strength.
Sandwich’s new City Administrator Geoff Penman was appointed in October and already has plans in motion for the new year.
In his first months as administrator, Penman spearheaded a plan to combat late water bill fees and an amnesty program to help Sandwich residents get current with their payments, which is expected to take effect in January.
Latham said his main goal for Penman in 2023 is to be aggressive in pursuing grant opportunities and be instrumental in the city’s economic development.
Penman also will be starting a compensation study, assisting with various projects in the city and coordinating with developers and engineers.
“It’s nice to have somebody else that will be working on the projects with me,” Latham said. “It’s adding more personnel to a growing city to handle the workload.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle
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