In State of the City, Moore announces 'Safe. Stable. Healthy' priorities


In State of the City, Moore announces 'Safe. Stable. Healthy' priorities


Safe. Stable. Healthy.

Those are the three words Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore used to describe what his administration will prioritize in future city development and initiatives.

Moore gave his second State of the City speech as mayor Wednesday at City Hall to a chamber audience full of family members, department heads, City Council members and an online audience who were watching on Facebook Live.

In his 30-minute speech, Moore stated he will continue to pursue bolstering public safety, continue to work toward creating an industrial park and continue the city’s efforts to grow its trail system and amenities at some of the city’s parks and ballparks.

“It will take a collective effort from both the public and private sectors to experience the types of results we all wish to see — a future where our children and grandchildren feel safe in this community while knowing they have a stable economy within which to work and a healthy environment that helps them get the most out of life,” Moore said.

SAFE

Nearly a year after signing a new three-year contract that bolstered police pay by 16% over the length of the contract, the Kokomo Police Department is flush with applicants.

Moore said the police department saw 58 recruits competing in the last application window for positions within the department — a substantial increase from years past when the department was averaging 10 to 12.

To further bolster recruitment efforts, the city made Officer Edith Forestal a full-time recruiter, ran a TV advertisement in markets across the state and created a website dedicated to recruitment.

Moore said the efforts have so far led to the police department hiring 21 officers since Jan. 1, 2020. That has equated to a net positive gain of five officers since Moore was sworn in, though that will drop to three in the near future as the department will see two officers retire, the mayor told the Tribune after his speech.

The Kokomo Fire Department has hired seven new members since Jan. 1, 2020, with three more in training, though Moore said the department’s employment numbers will essentially be a wash compared to the start of 2020 when factoring in retirements and employees out due to injuries.

“It (new police and fire contracts) also speaks to the administration’s commitment to work diligently to bring both departments back to the prestige they once had across the state,” Moore said. “We all understand that it won’t be achieved overnight, but we do know it can be attained by working together.”

Moore also highlighted the newly reinstated crime analyst position, which is assigned to be “proactive” and analyze crime throughout the city and make recommendations on where and how the police department should allocate its resources.

Additionally, Moore said the police department will continue to patrol city parks, which have been the scene of recent fights among juveniles, particularly Foster Park.

While safety can pertain to crime, it can also pertain to walkways and pedestrians. One major future road and sidewalk reconstruction project s aimed at doing just that.

Markland Avenue, from Apperson Way to Indiana 931, will be resurfaced and will see upgraded streetlights, ADA compliant sidewalk ramps and new sidewalks installed.

“These upgrades were designed to help reduce accidents and improve access to the businesses along Markland, as well as give visitors an easier path between the Championship Park area and downtown,” Moore said, adding that the city will hold future town halls to inform the citizens and businesses on what to expect.

STABLE

Stability, as the Moore administration sees it, includes supporting current jobs while also working to bring new jobs and employers to the community.

Moore reiterated Wednesday his priority to work to establish a new city industrial park, with “shovel ready” sites that could one day house new companies.

The idea to create an industrial park has been one shared by the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance for a handful of years now and highlighted by Moore as a top priority in his mayoral campaign.

Moore said Wednesday that talks are ongoing to acquire land to said industrial park, as previously reported by the Tribune. Though he did not specifically say what land is being targeted, Moore did say the ideal area would be close to major employers such as Stellantis and close to the interstate and Kokomo Municipal Airport.

“If we want our children to consider living here after school or entice individuals to transition from tourists to residents, we need good, quality jobs here in Kokomo and more of them,” Moore said. “For years now, community leaders have spoken on the need to diversify our economy, so having an area with shovel-ready sites for various industries ... is vital in my mind to finally achieve what we desire.”

HEALTHY

Being healthy has taken on new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic, but “healthy” in city terms means continuing efforts to expand the city’s trail system started under former-Mayor Greg Goodnight’s administration.

Moore highlighted two major projects: the extension of the Cloverleaf Trail from Markland Avenue to Dixon Road and the construction of a walking and biking trail on Center Road as examples of the city’s continued commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Construction on expanding the Cloverleaf Trail has already begun, as reported by the Tribune in January. The rail-trail will follow the former Norfolk Southern line, which the city acquired in 2018. The line runs by Haynes International and the city’s yard waste recycling center before hitting Dixon Road. The project will also construct a short trail spur just south of Markland Avenue to connect to the Wildcat Creek Soccer Complex. This year, the city plans to build a walking trail around the complex, and the rail-trail spur will connect to that pathway.

Moore hinted at future amenities to be located adjacent at the Wildcat Creek Soccer Complex.

“There’s more information on that to come,” he said.

Construction on the walking and bike trail along Center Road from Indiana 931 to Dixon Road isn’t expected to begin until 2022 and will be paid with mostly federal funds, with some matching city funds.

The trail will run on the north side of Center Road, through the roundabout, until the intersection of Park and Center roads, where users will have to cross southbound to continue on. From Park Road to Dixon Road, the trail will run on the south side of Center Road and will be connected to the walking path at Jackson Morrow Park, tying the two paths together.

Additionally, Moore said the city is planning new amenities to existing neighborhood baseball parks. Current ideas include trailhead stops, a BMX style pump track, fitness equipment and kid ninja warrior courses.

“It should be fun, but stretch before you get on,” Moore said.