Things showed a slow but steady improvement over the year of 2011, said Hudson City Manager Steve Hartsel.
In a recent interview, Hartsel noted that the opening of several new businesses in town would have meant an employment increase of eight percent, if all the jobs went to Hudson residents.
Among the new businesses opening in Hudson over the course of the year were Redline Trucking in one of the old M&S buildings, New Hope Counseling, and Alpine Manufacturing in another old M&S building, Rumors. Burnip’s Equipment could be added to the list, since they will soon be opening in the old lumber yard on the east side of town.
“It’s slow but steady improvement,” Hartsel said. “I think we have reason to be more optimistic than some of the communities in the county.”
Though the city’s budget was tight, the city was able to make some improvements. One that should have a lot of positive effect, although most residents won’t see it, was the rebuilding of much of the service road in the Industrial Park, along with work starting on the extension of Steger Drive, which will open up six more lots to possible development. The Industrial Park also received Business Park Certification from the state, which could help the park’s expansion.
Another major project the city managed to accomplish with the help of grant money was the rebuilding of the Jackson Street sewer lift station, which included re-lining of the sewer along Bean Creek upstream of the station, long believed to be a main source of storm water into the sewer system.
Several streets were also repaved: Tiffin Street, Jackson Street, Douglas Street and parts of Jefferson and Division Streets.
A big item accomplished in the past year was the completion of the Findlay Trail, from Maple Grove Avenue paralleling M-34 out to Munson Highway. One of the more visible parts of the project was the new pedestrian bridge over the Garrison Drain on the east side of town. Largely grant-funded, the paved trail is proving to be a popular walking, jogging and biking path; plans are under way for development of another trail segment, north along the old railroad grade from downtown out to Lincoln School this year.
The appearance of downtown was spruced up by the completion of this year’s Downtown Facade Improvement program. Another program is in the works for this year.
Hartsel said that public protection was a major earmark of the city’s improvements in 2011. These projects included:
• A weather camera on the top of the fire station to help give the city better local tornado warning.
• A new tornado warning siren, located on the property of the high school.
• A new police car.
• A new fire truck.
• Possibly the most important, an improvement in the city’s fire rating from Class 7 to Class 5. “This should have an impact on lowering premiums,” said Randy Darr of Darr Real Estate and Insurance. “This should result in at least some improvement for homeowner’s insurance rates.” The action may also help lure some new businesses to town. The action came as a result of new fire equipment and improvements to the city’s water system, such as the new water tower at the Industrial Park.
In 2011, the Downtown Development Authority purchased “wayfinding signs” which will soon be put up along Main Street, pointing to such places as the city hall and the library.
The city wasn’t the only place that had progress in 2011. After two attempts, which much community support, a 2.35 mill school bond was approved soundly by voters in November. This will allow for some seriously-needed improvements at the school, such as windows, roofs, and boiler replacement for some very aged and sometimes inoperative equipment. Planning for the work at the schools is under way, and should get going as soon as the weather warms up.
The outlook for 2012 is mildly positive. Hartsel indicated that there are several more industries considering moving to town or considering expansion, although nothing is ready to be announced yet. Though the economy is still tight and a little shaky, slow but steady growth is on the horizon for Hudson. “We still have plenty of room for improvement,” he commented, “But I think we’re on our way.”