This month’s utility bill included City’s first stormwater utility fee. The $7 monthly assessment will be banked to finance a list of projects, each intended to keep things drier in the event of serious flooding. The fee is for Lindsborg’s continued maintenance and improvement in stormwater management; some progress has happened since the disastrous flood of 2013, but more is demanded.
The City’s property and sales tax bases are already stretched. Several capital projects critical to flood control in Lindsborg have been delayed for years and seven of them, estimated at a total $1.2 million, may now start moving up the list. Without this reasonable and equitable fee, the cost in property taxes would increase municipal levies by an estimated 50 percent – that, or leave our flood risk to fate. The wreckage and dismay of August four years ago, and the expense of recovery remain fresh in mind. It only makes sense to create this new source of revenue and dedicate it to stormwater management.
This adds to the long-term thinking that credits our City Council and its adroit City management. The tree trimming program is one example; it revolves annually by city quadrant, keeps limbs away from power lines. It is now routine, reducing the threat to our power service when the big storms hit.
The stormwater fee, based on the impervious surface on an average single family home – and determined at various commercial and industrial properties – is added to the City’s recent worthy pursuits.
THERE HAVE even been surprises, such as the paving of Garfield Street, between Second and Kansas, a couple of years ago. This short stretch of gleaming asphalt, finished almost overnight, was such a fabulous event for northeast Lindsborg that we christened all two blocks of it the Garfield Street Expressway. It was a gift. The city had spare materiel, was aware of the peril waiting along that cracked and fissured stretch – and fixed it.
Mostly, the City ascends with careful long-term planning, a grinding process that, over the years, has brought the community a deepened beauty, has kept the spring in her step, encouraged those who live here and those who visit to take a deep breath and, simply, enjoy change that is ever better. Examples? Look around.
Four years ago the city’s downtown infrastructure enhancement was begun, an $852,000 project that reminded us of the critical role of state and federal governments in our lives. The city paid 20 percent of the cost, thanks to our infrastructure improvements sales tax, approved in 2010; a Transportation Enhancement Program grant paid 80 percent – federal funds channeled through the state Department of Transportation. This paid for, among other things, new sidewalks and lighting, underground electrical lines, an outdoor sound and speaker system, selective curb and gutter improvements, replacement of about a dozen or more trees, and an enhanced watering system.
IN THE PAST decade or more, we can think of at least a halfdozen other projects that have improved dramatically the way we live in Lindsborg.
‒ A three-year city-wide sidewalk rehabilitation project, with municipal subsidies for private property improvements (completed 2004);
‒ The $370,000 renovation of East Lincoln Street from Second Street to Harrison-Cole and including the great iron Välkommen archway; the project also included new lighting, signage, 10-feet wide sidewalks, and landscaping (completed in 2005);
‒ The $1.5 million Välkommen Trail, a 2.5-mile paved concrete and landscaped pedestrian and bicycle roadway with trail heads and rest stops (opened in 2006); the Trail financing included $1.2 million in federal Transportation Enhancement Grants through the state Department of Transportation. A 1.5- mile extension is underway in northeast Lindsborg;
‒ Renovation and upgrading of the City’s entire power grid, doubling voltage capacity, increasing efficiency and reducing line loss (a 7-year program completed in 2007 at roughly $200,000 per year);
‒ The Smoky Valley School District’s purchase and remodeling of the former Laubach Building, expanding the district’s charter School to Vision_Tek, a community teaching and technology center;
‒ The $400,000 widening and rebuilding of East Swensson, from Bethany campus to Harrison-Cole, including new lighting, signage and landscaping (2011);
‒ The $1.2 million renovation of the Lindsborg Municipal Building and City offices, at Main and Lincoln (completed, 2010);
‒ Construction of a $5.8 million state-of-the-art water treatment plant (finished, 2011). Of the total cost, $500,000 came from municipal sewer reserve funds. The rest (most) of the project was paid with a $3.4 million federal loan and $1.9 million in two federal grants.
THE CITY’S Convention and Visitor’s Bureau continues its creative pageantry. The gleaming J.O. Sundstrom Conference Center, opened 3½ years ago, has brought raves. In a sense, these may be seen as collateral benefits of state and federal aid, when projects cultivate a desire to enhance the community in other ways. Viking Valley, the renovation of the north half of Swensson Park in 2004, is an example, built entirely with donated material, equipment, labor and cash. The power grid, East Lincoln and Trail projects flourished, provoking an interest for more, and a need to address the matter of funding. Thus, in April 2010 voters approved a city-wide, half-cent sales tax increase to finance such economic development projects. Successful projects have stimulated the desire for more.
THE AD HOC business roundtable, an organized but informal group, works with the City in many ways, acting in a spirit of shared principle, responsibility and passion – an inventive and imaginative organization but with no officialdom.
Thus in the course of community life, people decide how they want their town to look and how they want to live. It can often take time, a matter of evolving, of sorting out, of deciding what is important ‒ and not.
All the while, we need help. The spirit, the creativity, the passions belong to us, but the community that is our state and the family that is composed in Washington are to encourage our mission, to ensure some equity in our pursuit of happiness. At least that is how it has been for a couple of hundred years. We could not have done any of this without assistance, without sharing, and without gratitude. Up to now, much of what we’ve accomplished is because we have a government, one that is to be embraced, and not feared. And certainly not one to be disparaged, or dismantled.
‒ JOHN MARSHALL