State of the City Address – 2011
It has been a privilege to serve as Mayor of Lawrence for the past year. I have met such great people and learned so much over the year. When I think back over my term, I am proud of what the City Commission has accomplished and I look forward to continuing the work in upcoming years.
Growing our local tax base and job opportunities through our economic development efforts has been a main focus of the Commission and I see progress in this area. For example, the transformation of the blighted Farmland Industries site into a job-creating business/industrial park has begun. Over 1600 tons of scrap metal has been recycled from the site and master planning on the 467-acre tract is in progress.
We are now working together better than we ever have with our local business partners including KU, the Lawrence chamber of commerce and Douglas County- this collaboration of entities all focusing on business opportunity and prosperity magnifies our common efforts and has enabled the success of projects such as the Bio-Science incubator which is now 2 years ahead of schedule and ready for Phase 2.
As an organization, the city has and will continue to take specific steps to make it easier to do business in Lawrence. Lawrence, Kansas has been fiscally responsible and is a b community excellently-positioned to take advantage of the coming economic growth. The prospect of creating more opportunities for businesses to thrive and to locate in Lawrence is crucial to our continued growth and prosperity which among many other benefits allows us to put resources into our important social and arts programs we value so much in Lawrence.
Another area of emphasis, which holds special importance to me, is the city’s environmental efforts. Over the past year we have made progress in this area: we reduced city’s energy use, added an Environmental chapter to Horizon 2020, began an urban agriculture program, rolled out new hybrid busses, passed a foot and bike friendly “Complete Streets” policy and have increased our recycling.
Over the past year, I chaired the Solid Waste Task Force and became very familiar with solid waste and recycling programs. Most importantly, I heard from hundreds of citizens about the importance of our city Solid Waste Division and the absolute necessity to maintain high levels of customer service while maintaining affordable rates. I am confident the city can create a solid-waste program that is economical, customer-friendly and increases workers’ safety
I am also a firm believer that our employees are our greatest asset – and their safety should be of paramount interest. By introducing standard carts for trash collection, we can dramatically reduce employee injuries and provide a system that is well-recognized as a best practice and is already in use in thousands of municipalities in the U.S.
After noticing a lack of adequate glass recycling opportunities in Lawrence I worked with city staff and successfully launched a glass recycling program through Ripple Glass. The program has been very well received by our community and in the first month we are already recycling over a ton of glass every day.
Next steps for recycling include more glass recycling locations including behind restaurants and bars, examining city-wide curb-side recycling and adding recycling bins downtown.
Driving on Lawrence’s streets this past year was a challenge with all the road work we did and next year will be challenging as well- but our community requested better roads so the Commission made this a priority. The good news is that data shows that our roads are improving.
Lastly, I have continued my focus on the Lawrence Public Library this past year; with the support of the community and the help from my fellow commissioners the renovation project continues to move along. The design program is complete and the final plans are being crafted. A local construction manager was selected and we will break ground this year. I look forward to the finished renovation and the increased parking downtown.
I cannot express the absolute appreciation I have for my family, friends and employees who have been a wonderful support system for me as I worked to fulfill my duties as Mayor. Being Mayor is not a Tuesday-night only job – it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I often had to juggle my work schedule to meet city needs and my work staff fielded many calls and scheduled many meetings- thanks to my great staff at Cromwell Environmental.
My family, particularly my wife Hannah and son Alder, have been incredibly supportive and patient as I worked to passionately pursue my goals as Mayor and give back to this community which has given me such tremendous blessings. Thanks Hannah and Alder for sharing my time with the city.
To my fellow Commissioners, to have been selected by you, whom I respect so much, to be Mayor this past year was an incredible honor. I am sincerely appreciative of the experience, skills and areas of expertise each of you bring to our discussions. Without a great group of commissioners who get along nothing could ever be accomplished. We have a set of commissioners who may not agree 100% of the time but who always respect each other. There are no games – just honest leaders doing their best for our community. I am very genuinely thankful to have been given the opportunity to know and work with all of you.
Likewise, throughout the past years and this year as Mayor in particular I have grown to know and respect our city staff. We have passionate, committed individuals working for our community; these individuals believe bly in public service and are dedicated to providing excellent city services that enhance the quality of life in Lawrence. The city is well served by this group of professionals.
In closing, I look forward to continuing my service on the Lawrence City Commission and look forward to the future. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity. The city is in great shape and I am eager to further the implementation of programs and services that enhance the quality of life in the Lawrence community. Thank you all.