Hammond sees big changes

Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster gave his state of the city address last Thursday, Feb. 28. Members of the Hammond Chamber of Commerce and city council officials attended to hear what Mayor Foster had to say about Hammond’s wellbeing and its upcoming projects.
“I have to tell you, the state of the city is good. The sales tax collections are very good. We are over budget,” Foster said.
Hammond is undergoing numerous changes so residents and commuters alike can enjoy the cleanest city in the state of Louisiana. Hammond is the only city in the state to have been named “cleanest city” six times in a row by the State Garden Club Association, and Hammond is also a member of Safe Communities America, part of the National Safety Council.
“We have had four murders in the city in 2012, and three of the four have been solved,” Foster said. “What we’re trying to do also is to educate people: don’t leave your cars unlocked, don’t leave your purses on the front seat of your car, lock your doors when you leave your house. It’s some common sense things that we’re trying to educate the public about [staying safe].”  
Improvements include a new Hammond Police Station, which will be housed in the old Hancock Bank downtown, more computers installed in the Michael J. Kennedy Center for the public to use and after school programs for youth.
Many students may have noticed the construction going on near the Hammond Dreamland Skatepark, thinking it may be an addition to the skatepark. However, it is a new water well being installed.
“This well hits some of the purest water in the city,” Foster said.
Next to Dreamland Skatepark is Zemurray Park, and it is receiving a plethora of renovations. This includes free Wi-Fi in and around the park and a new playground for children. This project is costing approximately $80,000 of city money, and the Wi-Fi was made possible by a grant from out of state.
“For those born or raised here, know Zemurray Park could be the jewel of the city of Hammond,” said Foster. “We are currently putting a lot of resources, time and money into redeveloping Zemurray Park.”
Other projects going on include a geographic information system (GIS) to properly identify property lines, a youth mentoring program, a sanitary sewer evaluation study and the installation of defibrillators around Tangipahoa Parish. Lacy Landrum, who works in the grant department, was responsible for allocating money for the defibrillator project. Landrum is also working on making Hammond a Northshore corridor to stimulate economic growth and make traveling on the roads less stressful, thanks to a grant given to the city by the federal government.
“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of,” said Landrum. “We are the fourth fastest growing parish in the state. [This grant] means less congestion on the roads. These construction zones will make roads wider and bridges safer. This way we have better access, better safety and more efficiency within our area.”
There will be a community build for the redevelopment of Zemurray Park on April 6 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and if any individual or organization would like to volunteer or donate money to the cause, contact the Mayor’s office at 277-5650.