Knox Mayor Dennis Estok is touting some of the city’s accomplishments in his first year since retaking office.
He told the city council last week that quite a few gains have been made, when it comes to quality of life. “I know last year, the first meeting, I did put a large agenda in front of you guys,” he said. “You know, we hit on about everything that we set out to do.”
Estok said the new splash pad at Wythogan Park has been a huge hit. “It actually did what we kind of thought it would do a little bit, is it did bring people from outside of Knox into our town,” he said. “I know I did have one business, fast food, said that he noticed strange faces coming in in the summer, buying pops and stuff, and he thought it was due to the splash pad.”
Similarly, the performance stage being built in the park is generating some interest. Estok said he’s already heard from someone wishing to schedule a wedding and reception there.
Several city-sponsored events also helped bring people into Knox, the mayor said, including the Peppermint Parade and the Memorial Day car show. Estok said the Fourth of July fireworks and Fun Day were particularly successful in generating some excitement in the community. “What can I say about that? That exceeded, by far, my expectations and I think everybody else’s because we were leery on it,” he said. “I think we estimated maybe 3,000 people came, on the first year, in and out of there the whole day, and they came from all over, also.”
Beyond those items, Estok said the extension of 150 South had been in the works for a while, but was finally able to be completed, thanks to the state’s Community Crossings program. He said the work should improve access for emergency responders and senior citizens.
Estok said the city’s blight elimination program started out slow, but the city is on track have 10 houses demolished, with two more currently in the application process. He added that Knox is also seeing success with its code enforcement efforts. “We really picked up steam on that, especially with the unsafe because we had four additional blighted – and these are blighted abandoned homes, we’re not kicking anybody out – but they were houses that actually had no chance at renovating,” he said. “We were able to get two of them down – the owners ended up agreeing to take them down them themselves at no cost to us. The other two homes, we bought out for a very minimum, very minimum price.”
However, Estok stopped short of taking the credit for the improvements. Instead, he thanked the city council, redevelopment commission, city departments, and contractors for working together to improve the community. He plans to present a list of goals for 2017 during the next council meeting.