The Hope City Board met Tuesday morning for their annual Facilities Tour at various city property and facilities. The tour gives members of the city government the chance to get a closer look at various projects that are in the works or recently completed and get insight from city employees about the operations of the different departments. Transportation for the tour was provided by Rainbow of Challenges.
Industrial Park Rail Spur
The first stop for the Board was the recently completed rail spur at the Hope Industrial Park off of Highway 32 between the airport and Oakhaven. The $1,600,000 project was completed a few weeks ago and replaced the old tracks south of Highway 32 where the rail runs south before tying back into the UP line that runs north from Hope and through Nashville. North of the tracks, an additional track was added to the two existing ones. The rail spur gives rail access to several facilities in the Industrial Park including New Millenium, Hexion and the former GP particle board plant. Board members were driven by city employees down each end of the new tracks so they could get a closer look at the completed project. There will be a ribbon cutting for the new rail spur on November 6 at 5:30 p.m.
Hope Fire Department
The Board loaded back up in the bus and headed back into town to tour the Hope Fire Department’s Station 1 on 2nd St. The fire department recently had a new exhaust system installed in the station that enables the firefighters to vent the exhaust from the trucks out of the building.
Assistant Chief Todd Martin told Board members that the tide seems to indicate that such systems are going to be required by law in the near future due to studies linking exhaust from the trucks to increased chances of cancer. Martin said that the system was about $88,000 including the equipment and installation. Martin said that some of the firefighters took a class on writing grants and were told during the class that they would most likely not get a grant for the new exhaust system. The fire department went ahead and tried anyway and were awarded the grant.
Martin told the Board that there were really only two options and after talking to firefighters from other departments that have used both, they settled on the Plymovent. Martin said that the system has been very effective, and the difference has been noticeable inside the station. The exhaust system has an easy connect and release magnetic seal that pops right onto the trucks’ exhaust system and will automatically pop off when the trucks are pulled out.
Northside and Fair Parks
The Board visited Northside and Fair Park to see the progress on the installation of new playground equipment at both locations. Parks and Tourism Director Pal Henley met the Board at Northside Park to give updates on the park projects and answer any questions they might have.
Both of the playgrounds cost more than $100,000 each and were funded by a grant Henley and his staff sought and were granted earlier this year.
The new playground equipment has been installed in Northside but is currently awaiting the installation of the fall surface around and under it. The equipment is on the north side of the park near the pavilion and restrooms. Henley said that in addition to the fall surface, the city will be installing a parking area and sidewalks running between the lot and the pavilion and the pavilion and the playground.
The Board briefly checked the progress of the playground installation at Fair Park later in the tour. Crews were doing the dirt work around the equipment and assembling it when they passed through. The new playground is being installed east of the pool at the previous playground location which had the elephant slide that has been a fixture at the park for at least four decades. The elephant was missing from the location on Tuesday, but Henley previously said that it will remain a part of the park.
The new playground equipment in Fair Park is ADA compliant and has wheelchair access.
The Board members were given a tour of the City Shop located on W. 3rd St. Members visited the offices and perused the collection of old photographs from around Hope that are on display in the halls. The City Shop houses the offices for several of the city’s departments including Street, Sanitation, Code Enforcement and wastewater. It also is the location of the garage where city vehicles are fueled and serviced. During the visit, a truck delivered new Christmas Decorations that city employees will be putting up around town in the coming weeks.
Once the Board’s tour was complete, they gathered for a lunch meeting with the city’s department heads in the Hempstead Room at Hempstead Hall at UAHT. The meeting was catered by Sheba’s. During the meeting, the department heads proposed and discussed their budget needs for next year. With only two months left in the year, the City Board will soon be hammering out the details and making decisions on the upcoming 2020 city budget.