With the 2020 municipal election in the rearview, Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock can now focus on the future."
Now that I have secured a second term, the first goal is to see the projects we have in the pipeline through to the end," Hammock said. "The wastewater treatment facility should be completed in February 2022; sewer line rehab for Emfinger subdivision should be completed in the next year; Tallaweaka Tank should be finished in the next 90 days; Whatley Drive project should be completed this year; the cast iron gas line replacement project touching Wards 4, 5 and 7 should be done in 90 days; and the Laney lift station project should be done within the next year."
According to Hammock, some of the most unsafe structures in the city should soon be coming down once the legal process is complete and the city is soon expecting the go-ahead from the Alabama Department of Transportation to begin work in the downtown area.
"We are still in the process of doing title work for the (Community Development Block Grant) we received to demolish 27 unsafe structures, and we are still waiting on ALDOT to give us the green light to proceed with the downtown streetscape project and replace all utility services for Downtown Tallassee," he said.
During this next term in office, Hammock also plans to replace more outdated cast-iron pipeline.
"Looking ahead to the next four years I would like to keep doing a cast-iron gas line replacement project each year," he said.
Although this project is costly, it is necessary for the city, he said.
"These projects usually run between 200,000 to 300,000 each year,” Hammock said. “The City of Tallassee still has close to 30 miles of cast iron gas lines that need to be replaced. Also, the Public Service Commission has passed PSC Rule 13 that we need to comply with by Jan. 1 of 2023.”
Cleanup of the eastside mill site is also a major concern for Hammock, and, working with state agencies, he hopes cleanup will progress at the site sooner than later.
"We will still keep working with (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) to get assistance on a Phase 2 assessment grant at the eastside mill location. Once that is complete we will write a Brownsfield cleanup grant that can go up to $4 million."
Hammock would like to see the city's water filter planted expanded once the mill site is cleaned, as well as other development along the waterfront property
"On the 26 acres of the eastside mill, we will need to try to secure a grant to build a new state of the art water filter plant,” Hammock said. “This would still leave over 20 acres for development along the riverfront after the water filter plant is completed.
While work on the Tallaweka Water Tank is underway, another water tank also needs to be addressed, according to Hammock.
"The downtown water tank desperately needs to be painted inside and out and we hope to address that project in this term,” Hammock said. “The main water line running to the industrial park under E.B. Payne Drive needs to be rerouted. The water line keeps shifting and breaking when the ground gets cold in the winter and this causes problems for some of our industries."
As superintendent of utilities, Hammock would like to see the city's utility system recoup some of the continued revenue loss.
"We are in the process of doing another utility rate study," he said. "The goal is to break even on utilities. No one wants to pay more but we cannot continue to subsidize people's utility bills with our sales tax dollars. When we do this, other things pay the price, such as the police department, fire department, roads, recreation, senior services, cemetery, code enforcement and public library
to mention a few.
Once the next rate study is complete, Hammock plans to share those findings publicly.
"My plan is to have a town hall meeting when Jackson Thornton Utilities finishes the study and present it to the council and the citizens of Tallassee,” Hammock said. “We need to be breaking even on utilities and go up a little each year with the consumer price index to battle inflation on the cost of doing business.”
Like he said during his campaign for mayor, public safety is and will remain a top priority in his second term.
"Public safety is still a top concern for the next four years," Hammock said. "I want to make sure that police and fire departments have the equipment to make sure they can safely and effectively do their jobs. Speeding traffic on Gilmer Avenue is a top priority and we are looking at implementing a traffic officer that focuses primarily on speeding along our main thoroughfares."
Hammock would like to expand TPD's officers.
"I would like to look at bringing back a K-9 unit to our police department," he said. "This would help with traffic stops and we could also take through the middle school and high school with the board of education's permission."
Hammock said it could soon be time to update the public safety headquarters.
"The fire department and police department buildings are in need of repairs and we might need to look into constructing a public safety complex to house the police department and our main fire station," he said.
Hammock also hopes to see the recent recreation projects through and, perhaps, look at building a new recreation center.
"Recreation is always a hot topic in our city," he said. "We are waiting to hear if we will be awarded a grant to help construct a soccer complex. We currently have over 140 kids playing recreational soccer in our city. Also, we desperately need to do more repairs at our recreation center to hold us until we are financially able to make sufficient upgrades at a different location."
Hammock hopes to see the Benjamin Fitzpatrick repainted.
"Beautification is an area of concern in our city,” Hammock said. “We are writing an ATRIP 2 grant that hopefully will fund the $3 million project to blast and paint the Fitzpatrick Bridge."
Tallassee has a large population of rental homes. Some of the homes are substandard, and that is something Hammock hopes to change in his second term.
"We have a large number of rental homes in our city that, in my opinion, are not fit to live in,” Hammock said. “I want to introduce an ordinance this next term that will require all rental property to be inspected and brought up to code before it can be issued a certificate occupancy."
According to Hammock, substandard rental housing may be to blame for some of the city's residential fires.
"I feel that our structure fires are on the rise and someone is going to get seriously injured or killed if we do not do something about it," he said.
While Hammock has many plans for the city moving forward, he understands ultimately these decisions will be made by the representatives for the citizens of each ward.
"The mayor is the executive branch of government in our city,” Hammock said. “The city council is the legislative branch that votes and decides what direction we go in. These are only suggestions that I have for the council. I look forward to discussing these issues and I am sure there will be differences of opinions. The council will decide which direction to go and I will execute the plan they decide on.”