The signs that spring has finally arrived in Fort Wayne are all around us. Not only are the flowers blooming, but also the grass is beginning to turn green and grow. Which brings us to one of the ways City employees know spring is finally here: Neighborhood Code Enforcement is starting the 2002 City Weed Program.
NCE is implementing changes meant to make the Weed Program more efficient, save taxpayer's money and promote the upkeep of properties throughout the City. The changes were brought about as the result of research performed by the Weed Committee. The Weed Committee was formed in September of 2001 at my request.
The biggest change that citizens will see is that contractors hired by the City to cut yards with weed violations will be required to mow the lots down to three inches, reducing the number of times a lot will have to be re-mowed. Contractors are also going to be paid at a flat rate based on square footage rather than an hourly rate, which should allow the City to mow more lots with current funds.
Neighborhood Code Enforcement will have between eight to twelve people posting violations this summer. A quadrant system to help monitor violations is going to be used. This system will be less complaint driven and will be more efficient at improving the total appearance of City neighborhoods. NCE will begin with the Southeast quadrant and work clockwise throughout the City making five or six sweeps of each quadrant throughout the summer.
Another sure sign that spring has arrived is all of the construction projects happening throughout the City. Recently, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the $23.5 million Headworks project, which will improve the City's Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dwenger Avenue. This project is critical to increasing the amount of wastewater the City is able to treat.
Work has also begun on the West Jefferson Boulevard Improvement Project. This project, which will widen West Jefferson from Swinney Park to the Railroad Viaduct, is one of the City's major transportation improvement projects for 2002. The road will be widened to five lanes with a center turn lane to reduce the high number of rear-end accidents at this location. The roadway will also be resurfaced and the street lighting will be upgraded. The cost of this project is approximately $1.5 million and is expected to be completed by November 1, 2002.
One unfortunate sign that spring is here are potholes. Fortunately, the City has partnered with cellular phone companies Nextel and Centennial to create a cell phone pothole hotline. The new service will allow residents to dial #24 on their cell phones to report potholes that they see around the City. The calls will then be forwarded to the Street Department.
The Street Department has had great success in reducing the response time for pothole repairs. The department's goal is to respond within 24 hours. Currently, the department is repairing potholes within eight hours. That's an improvement from last December when potholes were repaired in just over nine hours. The average time for a pothole repair in 2000 was 48 hours.
Of special interest to residents in the Waynedale area who have been battling with rusty water problems is a water main replacement project. In the next couple of weeks, City Utilities will be installing new water mains on Allendale and Kimberly drives. City Utilities has been doing several of these water main replacements to cure the problem of rusty water and to increase water pressure.
With the arrival of spring our natural inclination is to spruce up our homes and begin tending to our yards. The City is no different. As you begin your spring-cleaning rituals, the City will be doing its best to do the same by paying special attention to the maintenance of the entire City.