As we rapidly approach the end of the construction season, the City is quickly working to wrap up a variety of infrastructure projects. We had a busy year executing infrastructure projects and approving additional work that will be completed over the next year and a half.
In the past few months alone, the City completed the $3 million Float Avenue infrastructure project, repaved Sunset Drive, Hurd Street, Boggess Street, as well as portions of Ottawa Avenue and Winneshiek Street. Anyone who has driven over Locust Avenue between Lincoln Boulevard and Pleasant Street will appreciate the much-needed repairs that were conducted in the past week. We are also in the middle of milling the street and overlaying Highland Drive in its entirety and are planning on road repair on portions of South Demeter Drive before the weather, and leaf pickup season, prohibits us from further infrastructure improvement projects.
In addition to these water and sewer projects, the City also began utilizing our $2 million grant to replace lead service lines in the City. While all these projects can be an inconvenience to drivers attempting to navigate the construction zones, we appreciate the patience of the residents as this work is critical for upgrading our City’s infrastructure and improving our quality of life.
If you’ve driven along Burchard Avenue, you’ve no doubt noticed the long-term activity around the water tower, including a large drill. We are in the middle of drilling for our new water well #11. Once completed, this new well will allow us to draw water from the Mount Simon aquifer, which our testing has shown to have even higher quality water than provided by our other wells. Next year you’ll see construction on the water treatment plant that will be built adjacent to the well. Once operational, the well will be capable of producing 2,200 gallons of water per minute. This new treatment plant will replace our current Brick Street plant, which has been in service since 1882. We continue to seek supplemental sources of funding, such as grants, for this and all our infrastructure projects.
The City also implemented plans to aggressively continue infrastructure work next year. In addition to the work discussed above, the Council recently approved the Phase 2 Water Main and Looping project which will begin immediately and go through the next year and a half. This $2 million project, which is part of our longer-term Capital Improvement Plan, includes water main replacement along portions of the streets of Cleveland, Jefferson, Monroe, Santa Fe, Meadows, Sylvan and South. Approximately 20%, or $400,000, of this project will be forgiven by the IEPA upon completion, allowing us to stretch our capital improvement funds further. We were also pleased to award the lowest bid to a local bidder, providing an additional benefit to our local economy.
The City continues to pursue all sources of funding to stretch our local dollars and recently applied for two Community Development Block Grants along the Adams Avenue Corridor. If awarded, one grant will assist qualified low- to moderate-income households with home improvements such as furnace replacement, roof repairs, window replacement and other improvements that enhance the value of the property and the surrounding neighborhood. The second grant will finance 2,000 square feet of road and 2,000 feet of water main replacement along Clinton Street, provide for four new hydrants and assist in service to nineteen residents. These grants would bring a combined award of $1 million with a local contribution of less than $100,000.
Such grants are another tool to leverage state and federal dollars at a fractional cost to the City. Our Capital Improvement funds are the backbone for financing the many infrastructure projects we face, but the forgivable loans and grants referenced above, and many others which our dedicated team continues to pursue on a weekly basis, allows us to pursue additional projects at a faster pace. The $200 million in critical infrastructure projects won’t be completed overnight, but I am proud to work with our citizens, our professional leadership team, and dedicated employees to move forward together to continue to make Freeport a great place to live, work and play. Thank you for being a part of it.
Jodi Miller is mayor of Freeport.