BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee Mayor Jim MacDonald addressed Maumee Chamber of Commerce members during the monthly luncheon, providing updates on the city.
At the January 16 luncheon, MacDonald gave the annual State of the City address, informing the 205 attendees of what the city plans to accomplish over the next 12 months and what projects have already been completed.
“The state of our city is strong and getting stronger with each passing day. I could not be more excited about what lies ahead,” MacDonald said to the crowd. “It comes down to this: I want Maumee to be the very best community in our region and I want everyone, that’s right, everyone in our city to share in our progress.”
To reach those goals, MacDonald said the city will need to support safe and clean neighborhoods, improve infrastructure, foster a strong financial position and provide quality city services that empower residents and businesses.
“Maumee is undergoing a renaissance, if you will, a transformation intentionally designed to create a vibrant, economically prosperous community,” he added.
There are many transformative projects underway and scheduled for the upcoming year, along with several that have already been completed, the mayor reported.
MacDonald noted that many of the recent improvements have focused on a “Strong Towns” philosophy, which aims to create sustainable communities that are economically strong, viable and environmentally conscious.
This means the city intends to slow vehicle traffic in areas shared with foot traffic and make the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to replacing and relining aging underground utilities and increasing the tree canopy and other native plant species.
The city has, so far, improved the Anthony Wayne Trail by redesigning intersections with a history of bad accidents, resurfaced and lowered the speed limit between Key Street and Ford Street and planted more trees.
Additionally, Cass Road, Conant Street and River Road have all seen significant work, aimed at slowing traffic to make the areas safer for pedestrians, increase shade and provide more parking for those who frequent uptown businesses.
“This coming year, we want to complete the multiuse pathway that parallels the Anthony Wayne Trail from South Detroit to Gibbs. If you’ll notice, it’s dug out and prepared for surfacing this next year,” MacDonald said. “We want to complete the angle parking in front of the new retaining wall on East Broadway.”
Upcoming work will also include a new curb and resurfacing project in the 100 block of East Dudley Street along with angle parking; resurfacing and marking parking spaces on West Broadway Street from St. Joseph’s Church to Ford Street; resurfacing on Gibbs Street from Broadway Street to the Anthony Wayne Trail; and resurfacing on West Harrison Street from Conant Street to Allen Street.
Also planned is new angle parking on West William Street alongside the Maumee Indoor Theater; paved alleys in the 100 block of east and west streets uptown; new curbs and additional angle parking and resurfacing on Allen Street from West William Street to West Harrison Street; narrowing and repaving Detroit Avenue from Parkway Plaza to River Road; and the creation of a 10-foot-wide pedestrian/bike path.
“We’re going to begin to use Quasi AI, which is learned traffic signal controllers in the uptown area, in order to move vehicles more efficiently through there,” MacDonald said.
Additionally, several city parks have received upgrades over the past year.
MacDonald reported that the existing tennis courts at Anderson Park were repurposed into pickleball courts, Ford Park’s parking lot had new drainage and a paved parking lot installed along with a new fence, and Rolf Park’s parking lot was seal-coated and restriped.
“The Towpath Trail, which connects to the Metroparks, thanks to the construction there, more people than ever are walking along the river,” MacDonald stated. “Over 1.25 miles of Towpath Trail were paved to accommodate those with restricted abilities that make it difficult for them to participate in accessing the river area.”
A plan was also proposed for an inclusive play area to be installed at the Maumee branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, the mayor added.
“Moving forward with what I would like to see us accomplish in 2024, number one (is) safe and clean neighborhoods,” MacDonald said.
This will mean following the Strong Towns philosophy for road design and improvement, sidewalk repair and identifying and remediating blighted properties, he said.
An adequately staffed police department and supported fire and EMS department will also help with that endeavor, MacDonald noted.
“Improving aging infrastructure is number two,” the mayor said of his priorities.
According to MacDonald, the city will work to reduce sanitary sewer pumping and overflows, which will significantly reduce volume and storm water infiltration; replace aging water mains; and direct attention to the sewer department.
“Number three (is) fostering a strong financial position,” MacDonald continued. “The city earned the Auditor’s Award with Distinction in 2023 for the 2022 Annual Financial Report. Passing the state of Ohio audit at this level of recognition is a testament to the professionalism and capability of our finance department.”
MacDonald explained the city’s three different fund accounts to chamber members: operating, capital and enterprise.
Operating funds support the day-to-day functions of the city, including wages.
Capital funds support items like road projects and road resurfacing, along with equipment and vehicle purchases.
“Our enterprise funds, like the water and sewer, essentially what that means is when you pay the water and sewer bill, that money is used exclusively for these services,” MacDonald said.
Water bill revenue funds the purchase of water from Toledo and supports the water division operations. Sewer bill revenue pays for the treatment of water and sewer division operations.
“What’s important to note is that these funds are not interchangeable,” MacDonald said. “It is against the law for us to go into one in order to pay for another.”
The primary sources of revenue for the city are income tax and property tax, MacDonald added.
Next up on the list for the city this year is to invest in its youths, which MacDonald said will be done by investing in community infrastructure and providing a safe school environment.
“Number five is promote and accommodate business investing,” MacDonald said. “Continuing to invest in our city’s infrastructure and finding other and more creative ways to help finance business interests will, in itself, create business interest,” he noted.
The city will also formulate a master plan through the Maumee Community Master Plan project. The first master plan was adopted in 1973 and has not been utilized to determine zoning direction for over three decades.
“I see local government specifically as a lighthouse that points people toward their higher aspirations,” MacDonald said. “It empowers us to improve our quality of life, to be our best self to our neighbor and pay it forward so that we may enjoy a safe and equitable community.”
During the luncheon, the chamber also:
• Held a swearing-in for the 2024 board of directors.
• Welcomed new members: Bill Chapman of Rehmann, Hillary and Nate Hinz of Exciting Windows! by Couture by Karen, Hyfah Hylou of TutorSmart, Lori Johnson of Lapoint Design, Tracey McNeal of Renhill HR on Demand and Tiffany Rodriguez of The Healthy Panther.