By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
With improvements in education and economic growth in 2012, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight spotlighted improving the quality of life for local residents in his annual State of the City address.
Goodnight presented his sixth “State of the City” address Monday before a packed Kokomo Common Council chambers.
He closed by stating that Kokomo can be a model city, a city that respects its past while embracing the future. Goodnight said he was setting lofty goals for the community.
“During the last five years, our community has overcome great adversity, including high unemployment, uncertainty and change,” he said. “We have managed each situation, together. Now, we must make sure we manage success together, by making calculated decisions.”
Goodnight said as a community improvements must be made in both big and small ways and to raise standards and demand better standards.
He said Kokomo is the only second class city in Indiana that is debt free and that the cash reserves went from $5 million in red, just before he took office in 2008, to $9.8 million in the black as of November.
During his speech, Goodnight noted the new residence hall for international male students opened by Kokomo-Center schools, expanded pre-school and the partnership with Indiana University Kokomo to renovate Memorial Gym.
Goodnight highlighted the investments made by Chrysler, Haynes International, FedEx and new investments in the business community in Kokomo.
“It is clear that Kokomo is moving forward on education and on economic development,” he said. “The third leg of the stool is community development: building a better quality of life.”
Goodnight said by driving around the city people see a cleaner, more vibrant community than a few years ago with nicer streets, additional green-space and trees and more public art.
“But we must not be complacent,” he warned. “We must continue to raise our standards ever higher, using all the tools at our disposal and a few new ones.”
Commenting on blighted buildings, owned by out of town owners, Goodnight said in the coming weeks a framework for new code enforcement legislation will be proposed which will give the code enforcement officers the power to do their jobs efficiently and when needed, aggressively.
Goodnight said the fixed-route trolley service will be expanded beginning in the summer and will be done with no fee charged to riders.
“While other communities, including our state capital, discuss and debate the need for expanded public transportation, our community is making it happen,” he said.
The only mention of the proposed annexation by the city along the new U.S. 31 Kokomo Corridor in the speech came when Goodnight said the city is facing challenges and opportunities.
“The biggest of these is the opening of the U.S. 31 bypass,” he said. “We must make wise use of this new thoroughfare. We have an obligation to promote smart development, while also protecting the businesses on our existing U.S. 31 and other corridors throughout our community.”
Goodnight said to keep it from becoming bland and congested will require careful planning and zoning and to make deliberate efforts to ensure our roads and surrounding areas are clean, well maintained and easy to navigate.
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