2013 State of the City Address (Full Text)
Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today. I would like to begin this morning by thanking the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce for providing us with this forum which we use annually to discuss the state of the City of Garden City. I would like to welcome my fellow City Commissioners (Roy Cessna, Melvin Dale, Janet Doll and Chris Law). I would also like to introduce a guest that is with us today: Mr. Bob Stewart. Bob is the Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. He is in town for a few days visiting his wife's family. There will be a meet and greet with Bob at the depot tomorrow at 2.
I am very grateful today to have the opportunity to visit with you about Garden City, a place I have called home for 65 years. It's an exciting time in Garden City right now. We are seeing a lot of development and growth.
We continue to work to enhance our standing as the regional center of western Kansas. This spring saw the completion of the reconstruction of the Bypass and the Schulman Avenue Intersection. That was followed by the grand opening of Menards, the first tenant of the Schulman Crossing Retail Development. Since that time, developer John Collet has announced more tenants, including Dick's Sporting Goods, Ross Dress for Less, Cato Fashions and Ulta Cosmetics. We expect additional retailers to be announced in the coming months. Another exciting project that is underway is the Stone Development project that is slated to bring a 96 room hotel, 25,000 square foot indoor water park, and 7,000 square foot Old Chicago restaurant to Garden City.
With this development comes the need for additional housing. We are encouraged by the housing projects currently underway. The City is in discussion with developers on seven different residential housing projects. The projects are at various stages ranging from conceptual plans to actual construction. Hopefully these projects will all come to fruition, resulting in over 500 new dwelling units in Garden City.
We also expect the retail development to have an impact on sales tax receipts, which are already up from last year. For the first seven months of the year, sales tax revenue was more than 5 percent ahead compared to the same period in 2012.
The development on the horizon bodes well for the community. We expect it to help the city's budget and limit the amount of property taxes needed, enabling us to hold the mill levy steady. The decision by Garden City voters this spring to continue our ¬½ cent sales tax for another ten years also helped enable us to maintain a steady mill levy, one that is lower than that of our neighboring communities. For 2014, the City Mill levy has been set at 38.954.
Transportation is also key to enhancing our standing as the regional center of western Kansas. Rail, aviation and adequate highways are critical to the safety of our citizens and are a vital means of maintaining and growing our economy.
Last year, when air service transitioned to Dallas on American Eagle, we reached a goal we had been striving toward for more than 20 years. By the end of 2012, enplanements totaled 17,923 passengers, well above the 10,000 enplanements required to maintain primary airport status. This year's numbers are on pace to be even better than last year. By the end of August, enplanements had reached 15,875.
An area of concern is the potential of the Southwest Chief rerouting. While there is still work to be done to maintain this passenger rail service through our community, I am hopeful that working together with other communities we can find a way to make it work. We appreciate the support of the National Association of Railroad Passengers as we work to preserve the chief on its current route.
The City continues to grow steadily. With this growth, it is important to also maintain existing facilities and infrastructure. To create this balance, the City continues to use a long-term capital improvement planning process that looks at immediate needs and more long-term needs. The CIP process relies on citizen involvement. After citizens suggest projects, a citizen committee then reviews all the proposed projects before the CIP is reviewed by the Governing Body and before any projects are submitted for approval in the budget.
Citizen engagement was also crucial to the development of the Downtown Master Plan earlier this year. The Downtown Master Plan focuses on the development of the Central Business District over the next 5-10 years. It was developed to establish a strong, sustainable framework that sets the character of the Downtown area in a way that will help maintain a prosperous downtown for local businesses, economic development, job creation and enhanced quality of life. Approximately 80 residents participated in the Downtown Master Plan meetings. The resulting document makes several recommendations regarding the downtown area. One of the recommendations that you will see in place soon is the restriping of Main Street to a three lane configuration between Fulton and Walnut.
Early each year, the Commission holds a goal-setting retreat. At that retreat, citizen-supported documents like the CIP are reviewed to ensure the goals we set are in accordance with the goals of our residents. For the remainder of 2013 and into 2014 our goals are to:
* Support Economic Development Activities
* Examine Community Facility Needs
* Support Regionalism
In supporting economic development activities, we want to:
* Remain focused on Schulman Crossing retail development project
* Examine the feasibility of a convention center/indoor facility for entertainment
* Establish rail spur to Garden City Regional Airport to stimulate multi-modal development of the industrial park area
* Stay ahead on infrastructure for growth
* Increase the quantity of quality living units in Garden City
* Explore feasibility of developing an Eastern Bypass
* Develop a marketing plan for existing retail areas
In regards to community facility needs we will:
*Continue expansion and maintenance of sidewalks/trails
* Explore feasibility of a public/private shooting range
* Support public art
* Install message boards in entryways and other high traffic areas
* Rehabilitate brick streets in the Downtown Area
* Examine the feasibility of an indoor/covered multi-use, multi-court facility for year round sporting events
And in supporting regionalism we must:
*Maintain the Southwest Kansas Coalition Relationship with Dodge City and Liberal
* Support Policies that enhance water quality/quantity/stewardship
We have already made progress on some of these goals. Others will take time, but we continue to work toward them. With these goals in mind, we hope to continue our growth and maintain our status as the regional center of western Kansas. It's a great time to call Garden City "home." Thank you.
Garden City Mayor Dan Fankhauser