Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall’s State of the Town address reviews 2017, outlines 2018 goals
It was an synopsis, he said, of things accomplished in 2017 and a look forward to the goals and projects projected for 2018 and beyond.
“To create an outstanding, vibrant, and livable community,” is the mission of the town government, said MacDougall, and he outlined some of the strategies being incorporated to do that.
MacDougall said 2017 was a “momentous” year that included some vital accomplishments for the town.
He noted the opening of the Icehouse Amphitheater in downtown Lexington. The venue hosted 50 events and attracted 30,000 guests, he said. Events ranged from musical performances and art shows, to the Total Solar Eclipse. Singers Patrick Davis and Edwin McCain were top draws.
MacDougall said the town also completed 32 annexations and added 775 acres, increasing the town’s limits by 11 percent. “It was the largest annexation in 40 years,” said MacDougall.
MacDougall said the number of businesses licenses grew too. There were 3,592 business licenses issued in 2017. And in 2017 there were 3, 675 business licenses issued. Gross sales grew from to $1.9 billion in 2016 to $2 billion in 2017,” said MacDougall.
MacDougall also lauded the Lexington Police Department because of a “significant reduction in crime” including a 46 percent drop in burglaries and a drop in shoplifting. MacDougall said the police department expanded its presence in the community, too.
Phase I of the town’s adaptive traffic signal control system, installed at 19 intersections, has been successful said MacDougall. It’s an effort to synchronize and balance traffic flow.
In 2018, Phase II of the adaptive traffic signal control system adds 16 intersections and another 12 intersections will be added in a partnership with Lexington Medical Center. MacDougall said $6.6 million in grant funding has been acquired to help pay for the traffic signal project.
In an effort to upgrade infrastructure, MacDougall said 3,241 feet in new water lines has been added to repalce aging pipes, and 10,000 feet of sidewalk has been installed. The town’s water and sewer service rating has been upgraded to AA.
MacDougall said more than $25 million has been pledged, in Tax Increment Financing and Hospitality Tax revenues for Gateway improvements at Sunset Boulevard and Corley Mill Road. He also said the 14-Mile Creek Trail has been restored, using mostly FEMA funds, after being damaged by the 2015 flood.
In 2018, MacDougall said an emphasis will be placed on alleviating traffic by making Lake Drive and Church Street one-way. That project should be completed by the summer, using two percent Hospitality tax revenue.
The town is also working on a 150-space parking lot along South Church Street. There are other intersection upgrades, too, said MacDougall. Those are downtown, on Sunset Boulevard and at Corley Mill Road. About 55,000 vehicles-per-day use those roads, combined. Improvements at the I-20 westbound ramp are also being planned and new way-finding signage will be added.
Thirty smaller roads projects to alleviate traffic are in the pipeline and capital improvement projects include the town’s new maintenance facility and the Cromer Road pump station.
Upgrades to Virginia Hylton Park are planned as well as the rebuilding of the Gibson Pond dam at a cost of $2.5 million. Work is to begin this year.
MacDougall also mentioned events including the annual egg hunt, movies in park, the Snowball Festival, Kids Day, the farmers market, Blowfish baseball, and the Wine Walk as other attractions that enhance life in the town.