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Aylward gives first State of the City address at luncheon

Posted: Saturday, Oct 19th, 2013

HURON – A major new initiative for Huron is for city leaders, working in tandem with a consulting firm and the public, to decide in the coming months how to further develop city-owned land on either side of the James River, Mayor Paul Aylward said Thursday.

In a presentation at his first State of the City luncheon since taking office in May, he said the Lake and Riverfront Committee has begun discussions on a master plan for the area.

It includes Riverside Park, the old sludge ponds, the former swimming pool area and the old water treatment plant.

Any development will come in phases once a plan has been drafted by a Sioux Falls consultant, the mayor said.

But he also stressed that the public will be an integral part of the master plan, just as it was for the previous administration when the Splash Central water park and surrounding Central Park were being developed.

A future use for the old water treatment plant is likely to be a significant challenge. The structure looks sound on the outside, but the interior consists of large concrete water tanks and there aren’t a lot of options.

Still, a decision must be made.

“It needs to be dealt with,” Aylward said.

The annual State of the City luncheon was held in conjunction with a regular meeting of the Huron Kiwanis Club. Members of the incoming Leadership Huron class were also recognized.

When he took office in May, Aylward said the first thing he learned was, “boy is there a lot of things going on in the city.”

He outlined the responsibilities of each member of the City Commission, and thanked all of the city employees.

“It takes a fair amount of time to do the jobs we’ve been elected to do,” Aylward said.

“I think the state of our city is good,” he said.

The commission continues to budget money each year so that aging infrastructure can be upgraded. New water mains are replacing decades-old cast iron pipes, sewer pipes and manholes are being lined and crumbling curb and gutter are being replaced.

On the north and east sides of town, the city now has two new water towers – a one-million-gallon tank near Trussbilt and a one-half-million gallon tank near Dakota Provisions.

The city’s signature project in the past year, of course, has been the $13 million water park in a central Huron neighborhood.

“I think we exceeded expectations,” Aylward said of Splash Central.

In its first season, the city took in revenues of $560,000 and incurred expenses of $572,000, for a loss of just under $12,000. But cracks discovered in the base of the large swimming pool delayed its opening.

And Aylward also reminds people that the city’s old pool consistently lost more than $100,000 annually.

In his presentation, the mayor showed photographs of other major projects under way in Huron, including the enhanced veterans memorial at Third Street and Wisconsin Avenue Southwest.

“It’s going to be a great addition to our community,” Aylward said. The hope is to have the work done by Veterans Day.

He also pointed to Huron Regional Medical Center’s new clinic and the new state headquarters of the South Dakota Farmers Union.

The band shell in Campbell Park was renovated this year as well.

“There’s probably not a prettier park in the state, especially when they have the avenue of flags,” he said.

Aylward praised the City Commission for launching the recycling program last fall. Collections began this summer. A few months into it, there has been a 7 percent reduction in garbage, with a goal of 25 percent as schools and multi-family dwellings are added.

He also reminded the public of the city-county household hazardous waste collection at the state fairgrounds on Oct. 24.

The mayor encouraged residents to shop locally “not only to support our businesses but to support ourselves. We can only operate on what we have,” he said of city sales taxes.

For the complete article see the 10-18-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-18-2013 paper.

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