"We are always striving to make Hamden a better community and we are always chipping away at it."
This is how Hamden Mayor Mike Woodruff and Council member Dale McManus describe the progress being made in the village.
During an interview with The Telegram on Tuesday, Aug. 1, the village officials pointed to positive developments such as the construction of a new Dollar General store, the expansion of the village's sewer lines to nearby Lake Alma State Park, an expanding police department, and upcoming community-improvement projects.
As for business expansion, Woodruff stated the coming of the Tennessee-based Dollar General store will bring more people into town for shopping and provide people with everyday items they have been driving out of town to get. It is the first national retailer to locate in the village. Woodruff said he also hopes extra people coming to town will lead to either the village's restaurant reopening or another one being built.
"We welcome the Dollar General organization to our community," said the Mayor.
The officials also touched on the long and expensive sewer-line expansion project, which involves the sewer plant being able to serve the Lake Alma State Park campgrounds. McManus stated this project is important because it picks up sewer business in the summer when the South Elementary School is closed. The project gives campers access to public sewage and also allowed the park to build shower houses. The mayor added it is really a win/win situation.
Woodruff also plans to see if Huston Nursing Home, located just outside Hamden, would like to connect to the village sewer system. He plans to speak to nursing home officials and see if they are interested. If they are, Woodruff will check with County Development Director Terri Fetherolf to see if there is grant money available to connect medical facilities to public sewer systems.
Woodruff also spoke of the good job the police department is doing and expressed his hopes that village residents will approve the police levy this fall. While the mayor says he supports the levy, he does not want to tell anyone how to vote. He does hope, though, people will remember a time five years ago when the crime rate was high and a number of citizens urged the council to place a police levy on the ballot.
"A police department is important to both our residents and businesses," said Woodruff. He hopes the people agree and vote "yes" to keep it in place. He also noted the fire protection levy is up and hopes people also recognize the good work the fire department does.
Other projects the village is planning, through a Neighborhood Revitalization grant, include: street paving, building a picnic shelter at the former Hamden Elementary site, concrete repairs at the fire station and sewer system testing.
Another issue the mayor is looking at down the road is the demolition of dilapidated houses and/or businesses. Woodruff stated there are some properties along State Route 93 that could be razed, which could lead to business development. Other properties in residential areas could also be torn down to improve the safety and the appearance of neighborhoods, according to Woodruff.
He noted that McArthur was fortunate to have a private real estate developer perform a large demolition project in a commercial area. Woodruff hopes either the village can be just as fortunate or get grant money to do the same type of project.
Both McManus and Woodruff think the future is bright for Hamden, and stated the ending of the county's food-desert classification is also good news. The mayor added this is not as big an issue in Hamden as it is McArthur, but the food-desert label reflects on the whole county.
As for Hamden, the mayor says young people should consider buying homes there.
"We have an elementary school, a new Dollar General, convenience stores, new sewage and water, and clean and safe neighborhoods," said Woodruff. "Overall, we feel we are on a good path."