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Mayors report

                                            City of Hinton -Mayors Update – October 2021

 

                The City has been busy these last 15 months. The primary focus has been a concerted effort to clean up the dilapidated property and improve roads, and sidewalks while creating better river access points and public facilities to help stimulate more rafting, fishing, and tourism here.           This administration has tried to be the catalyst for change in cleaning up the town by sponsoring numerous community cleanups for roadsides, dumpsites, and a massive residential collection that resulted in our Public Works Department hauling over 120 Dump Truck Loads of household debris to an adjacent landfill. In addition, The City and local organizations and businesses sponsored both Tire and Appliance drop-off events. The City has also begun the process of citing, condemning, and demolishing abandoned properties. This process can be slow. Dilapidated homes are expensive to remove and you have to follow City Code and legal processes when seizing property and removing them. We have made progress in 15 Months with a total combined 20 properties razed including Mountain Plex Properties' own demolitions. Six to eight more properties are scheduled for the demo this fall by The City. We are making progress but it will take time to correct every structure problem we have. The City is exploring the possibility of creating a Housing Authority whose primary purpose would be to systematically work towards eliminating our Dilapidated housing problem. We believe we can get funding and will benefit from having someone to focus full time on these issues. This administration, the Mayor, Council Members, City Manager, and Public Works Director, and our employees are making a commitment to improving our infrastructure. Investment in street paving and repair and sidewalk repair will be a big part of our focus  In the next several years. The States recent paving of Temple and Summers Street has been a great benefit. The City too will invest in paving this fall. Many of our secondary roads haven’t been paved in 2 or 3 decades. We are fortunate because of Federal Cares Act Money to be able to do over 20 projects this fall, an investment of over $300,000 in paving. This is the largest paving project the City has undertaken in decades and is very much needed.  All the streets that need to be repaired won’t be this year but the plan is to continue to aggressively invest in street paving and sidewalks until we get caught up.This fall paving will include only a couple of streets in lower Bellepoint. The reason for this is a continued gas line replacement project and The City’s planned CSO Water Mitigation project that will begin by Fall of 2022 or Spring of 2023. Many of the streets there will be paved when those projects are complete. City sidewalk replacement projects are on the table as well. The City is working with State Engineers to develop a plan and cost to then apply for grant funding. Economic Development is also at the forefront of our efforts. We believe last year's designation of the New River Gorge as a National Park will provide a big boost to tourism in this area. We believe providing better access to the Rivers and more public facilities will improve our chances of becoming a destination for these travelers. A project of focus for us will be the development of Hinton Landing. This area will be a community park with a Family Shelter, Public Restrooms, and a beach and seating area for those just wanting to relax and enjoy the view next to the water.It will also serve as a primary launch and take-out site for rafters, kayakers, and fishermen. The goal additionally is to create 6-8 new permanent access points upriver from Hinton Landing to allow rafters a variety of lengths and scenery to float. Several quality access points now exist. One at Willow Wood Bridge Access, Bellepoint Park Launch, The City’s newly improved           The Point River Access is located where the New and Greenbrier rivers merge, and another on Park Service property on the New River just above Camp Berry’s. The focus isn’t just on Tourism. We want to attract folks to our area regardless of age. So the goal is to recruit Seniors as well as younger families and individuals and middle-aged adults to come Live, Work and Play Here!  Remote Workers, Light Industry, Small Business in (Retail, Entertainment and Dining), Healthcare, Education, Technology and Tourism all provide opportunities to help recruit and rebuild our population and workforce. We face one very large obstacle that we must address though is Housing. The housing inventory here isn’t large enough and contains mostly older homes. We must build newer homes in order to encourage families or individuals to come here. There needs to be more variety and selection in price, location, etc …. The City nor the State can fix this issue without the help of  Private investment. Our goal is to identify available property that would be suitable for that type of development and then find a private development partner. The City has hired a Grant Writer Tina Westphal to support our efforts. We are fortunate to be supported by Region 1 Planning and Development for the administration of Infrastructure          Grants and the New River Gorge EDA for additional support but need someone to help improve communicationbatroom and coordination with those agencies. Tina will also pursue non-government-related grants for The City.   Although Covid has impacted our plans the City is committed to trying to develop our downtown as a desirable place for businesses to locate. The City will continue to play a large role in Events and promotion to help generate traffic and loyalty from local and non-local consumers. The City’s investment in a Public Bathroom will complement Events and busy retail seasons.

               We will continue to look for ways to improve our community and welcome your ideas

               support and involvement.

               Best Regards, Mayor-Jack Scott