City of Holbrook will focus on low-cost improvements in ‘17

By Linda Kor

The City of Holbrook is moving into another year of improvements with a focus on minimizing costs and coming up with creative solutions to make Holbrook a better place to live.

Interim City Manager Randy Sullivan explained the city’s focus for the year: “This next year we’ll have another tight budget so we’re going to try to do as much as we can to make improvements that involve man hours instead of funds.”

One cost that the city will be unable to avoid is the increase in the minimum wage that will also affect higher wage earners who started out on the lower wage. Sullivan anticipates that to accommodate the increase the city will have to generate additional funds by increasing taxes in the coming year. According to Sullivan, the city has gone several years without an increase, but with the increased costs he doesn’t see how it can be avoided.

An internal study will be conducted on the Sun Valley water rates to determine what is a fair approach to handling costs. That study will include comparisons to other water districts in the county. “With the additional $5 that has been added to utility bills we will be able to make improvements, not just in Holbrook, but in Sun Valley, too. But right now we go in the hole every year in the Sun Valley water district so we need to look at those rates,” explained Sullivan.

The city will be working to improve city-owned land for public use and expand its cultural arts program to include events not limited to the Holbrook Depot Art Series. Some of the new events include a poetry café and acoustic music lineup at the recreation center, and a battle of the bands at the Roxy Theater.

Beautification in the city for the coming year will include the expansion of soccer fields at Hunt Park. According to Sullivan, Park Elementary School will be improving the fields adjacent to the park, and the city has agreed to work with the school district to develop that field and the field behind the pool into additional regulation-sized soccer fields. “This will be a great addition to the park to have three regulation fields and this will allow us to host soccer tournaments. We’ll also add another restroom to that area so that people won’t have to walk so far,” Sullivan noted. In addition to improvements at Hunt Park, a bathroom is going to be added to Lizitsky Park.

Crews will also complete the dog park at the north end of town, as well as an expansion to the micro parks in the city and a new element that Sullivan is hoping to have added. “I’d like to have workout stations added to each of the parks so people can run from one park to the other and do a workout set before moving to the next one, kind of like a CrossFit workout,” he explained. He believes the workout stations would involve minimal expense, such as using pipes welded to form a pull-up station. “It would mostly be just labor in setting that up and it would add one more aspect to the amenities,” he said.

Another park that Sullivan may be working on will be on a piece of land offered as a donation to the city by Councilwoman Francie Payne for a food park in memory of the late Jennifer Good. The plan for the lot located on Fourth Avenue just south of Buffalo Street includes fruit trees, fruit bearing vines and vegetable plots that can be adopted as memorial gardens to loved ones, with the produce to be shared with all who visit the park. The city will install drip lines and provide the water.

Sullivan is also looking into creating fishing ponds at the west end of Buffalo Street. “I talked with the Department of Water Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers, so the next step is to do some design work, which we’ll do ourselves,” he said.

Sullivan also noted that a small playground will be built off of McLaws Road at the south end of DeWitt Road on a piece of land already owned by the city. “We’re going to put in a swing set and one or two other things, and probably some wood chips for ground cover,” he said.

The city will also get back to maintaining roads once the weather warms up. A chip seal project is lined up for the streets around the schools and concrete roads will replace asphalt on a number of side streets. In addition, the drainage issues on Anita Drive and East Georgia Street will also be addressed to reduce flooding in those areas.

The city pool will also have a major remodel as far as the showers in the boys’ changing rooms and some other infrastructure issues.

“We want to do as much as we can with as little cost as possible and I think we can do a lot,” concluded Sullivan. These endeavors have one common goal, to make Holbrook a better place to live and a pleasant stop for those who visit.