Portsmouth City Manager Sam Sutherland touched on a myriad range of topics during a presentation Tuesday morning to the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.
While Sutherland mentioned numerous ongoing or coming projects, the question-and-answer period following his talk arguably revealed the biggest tidbits of news.
As anyone with a traditionally powered vehicle knows, the state of Ohio recently significantly hiked its per gallon gas tax. Sutherland said he greatly feared Dayton and “Ohio’s three C’s” would be the major recipients of the benefits of that gas tax. Apparently somewhat to his surprise, that’s not entirely going to be the case.
Sutherland said Portsmouth spends about $400,000 annually on repaving streets in the city. Next year, Portsmouth is in line to gain an additional $350,000 from the new gas tax.
“We’re going to be blessed next year,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland added increased funding will allow the city to upgrade or repave smaller and long neglected side streets throughout Portsmouth.
Another future endeavor could affect – and presumably the intent would be to benefit – Portsmouth for some time to come. Sutherland noted, some of the city’s zoning rules date back to the 1950s. He claimed it is past since time to update those zoning laws and come up with a master plan for Portsmouth’s future.
Sutherland added officials intend to involve and take advantage of the presence of planning experts at Shawnee State University. He did not offer any specific previews of what a final master plan might look like. But, again, during the question-and-answer portion of the morning, Sutherland talked about an intent to look at zoning and other issues along the Ohio River.
“It’s a pretty nice asset if we can get it cleaned up,” Sutherland said.
Some other developments already are fairly well known and highly publicized, such as the arrival of Spock Memorial Dog Park, the city’s first off leash dog park which has its grand opening 6-7 p.m., Friday at the park across the street from the city police station in the shadow of the Grant Bridge.
Recreational projects figured significantly in Sutherland’s comments to include the coming arrival of the city’s first skateboard park on Fourth Street along with plans to redo Front Street, adding a pedestrian friendly walking/biking path near the city’s current premier attraction, namely the flood wall murals.
While Spock Park and the coming skateboard park are in will be shiny and new, attempts also are underway to refurbish the existing Mound Park on Grandview Avenue. Sutherland said recently installed pickle ball courts are in heavy use, proving very popular. Some new lighting and security measures are in the works. The community group Connex plans a paved pathway in the park, a pathway already marked off, with construction set to begin soon, according to Sutherland.
Still elsewhere, Sutherland praised sprucing up work done to Greenlawn Cemetery. Volunteers put in lots of time and effort repainting the aging fence surrounding the cemetery. Sutherland talked about the city’s coming creation of an electronic system similar to a GPS which eventually allowing visitors to electronically find who they are looking for inside the cemetery.
Sutherland had nothing but praise for the by now well-known community group the Friends of Portsmouth. He touched briefly on the group’s effort such as Winterfest and Plant Portsmouth. Sutherland offered the opinion the time for some big business to swoop in and revitalize Portsmouth most likely has come and gone. He opined the future belongs to the type of entrepreneurship represented by the efforts of the Friends of Portsmouth.
While the Friends of Portsmouth routinely grabbed headlines in the last year or so, Sutherland also gave credit to the civic group Main Street Portsmouth for its 535 Second Street project and plans to light up Tracy Park come the holidays with roughly $40,000 in new festive decorations. Sutherland said he expects the number of lights to grow every year.
Moving away from parks and recreation related activities, Sutherland noted water line and sewer projects have and are springing up all over the city. The first item Sutherland mentioned was the coming completion of a new Sunrise Reservoir Pump Station. Sutherland stated the existing station reached the end of its useful life. In connection with replacing the pump station, the city is finishing up a $3.2 million project to replace the 30-inch water line running to the station. Sutherland predicted that project, replacing some lines dating back to 1928 and affecting roughly 8,000 people and businesses, will wrap up this summer.
Moving briefly back to streets and paving, Sutherland said the city’s plan is to begin the widening of Grandview Avenue from 17 Street South in the fall of this year.
Chances are no one has forgotten the plague of water line breaks which slammed the city last year. Sutherland said the officials certainly did not forget and introduced a community alert app designed to signal residents when emergencies hit Portsmouth. He noted Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware had a big hand in bringing that system together. Sutherland also warned persons who download the app should adjust the settings because otherwise they are likely to receive notifications from Huntington and other cities besides Portsmouth.
The Heads Up! Community application can be downloaded to your smart phone or device through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for android users, according to a
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.