Happy New Year to you! I sincerely hope each of you have a prosperous and healthy 2016! This month marks the beginning of my third year on the Surprise City Council. I have been blessed to be working with the colleagues that sit on the dais with me. Every person on that dais works tirelessly to make Surprise the best City it can be, including our City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk! This City Council has a good working relationship despite what you may have read in the press. While we don’t always agree, we can agree to disagree but maintain respect for each other.
I will kick-off this edition with some positive news for my fellow District 1 residents located in the northeast area…Jomax Road is finally going to be paved eastbound to just shy of Happy Valley Road. Unfortunately, we cannot go further at this time because the remainder of the road is located on County property.
Another residential development, Rancho Mercado, has been approved by the City Council. With the new development, major regional traffic constraints will be addressed by the developer through the construction of Happy Valley Road, both on- and off-site. Additionally, the city will receive 12 acres of donated land for a new public park.
The 2015 General Plan Summit with the Planning & Zoning Commission was held on December 4. Unfortunately, there were not many residents in attendance. After a healthy 5 ½ hour discussion, the meeting was very productive and goals for our city were solidified.
The Department of Human Service & Community Vitality hosted their annual Senior Services Holiday Party at the AZ Traditions Ballroom on Wednesday, December 9. The City has hosted the event at this location for the last few years and AZ Traditions does a fantastic job preparing the venue for us. Councilman Skip Hall, Councilman Todd Tande and I attended the event and were able to wish all attendees a wonderful holiday season.
That same evening found me at Marley Park for an event, “Meet the Elected Officials Night”, sponsored by the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce. I was honored to meet our State Treasurer, Jeff Dewit. I’d like to thank Ray Grim and his team from the Chamber for arranging the event.
On Thursday, December 10, I was excited to attend a two part celebration at the AZ TechCelerator. We kicked-off the afternoon at the new Surprise Resource Center and CAP (Community Action Program) office ribbon cutting. This center will help needy residents of Surprise and El Mirage with rent and utility assistance. Immediately following the CAP office ribbon cutting, we celebrated the grand re-opening of the AZ TechCelerator after months of renovations. The TechCelerator looks fantastic. A special thank you to Julie Neal and the team of Economic Development staff who helped make this possible!
Councilman Skip Hall, Councilman Todd Tande and I attended the Annual Adaptive Holiday Party for all of our special athletes on Friday, December 11 at DreamCatcher Park. The adaptive athletic programs are very popular and are part of our Community & Recreation Services, led by Director Mark Coronado.
I attended the City of Surprise Employee Appreciation Event on Thursday, December 17 at City Hall. City Manager Bob Wingenroth recognized some exceptional employees with awards and some of our longest serving employees with service awards. We have such wonderful employees working for the City, and it really stems from our leader, Mr. Wingenroth. He is truly a humble, servant leader with a positive attitude, especially in light of the weight of work on his shoulders.
City Council held a Special Council Meeting to further discuss the land-use elements of the Surprise General Plan 2035 on Saturday, December 19. The meeting was necessary so we could make a decision before the end of the calendar year. Several amendments were approved, and the key changes include replacing the Village Plan requirements from the development process, with a “Character Area” approach, to provide more flexibility in establishing land-use concepts and building forms to create a unified city. Wildlife Corridors remain within the conservation element and the overall General Plan. Open space is designated within the land-use element.
I was able to attend the retirement celebration for Surprise Officer John Jones at the Public Safety Auditorium on Monday, December 21. Thank you, Officer Jones, for keeping the residents of Surprise safe for all of the years you were with us. I wish you a safe, happy and healthy retirement!
I hope my entire fellow District 1 residents had wonderful Christmas holiday season. Please don’t forget my monthly meetings the third Friday of every month. This month, the meeting will be held on Friday, January 15. All meetings are held at the Retreat Center in Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby Drive. When you arrive, just push 0000 and let the guard know you are there for my meeting.I will continue to have them as long as there is interest! The meeting is open to anyone who wants to attend and speak to me on any topic. On February 19, we will have representatives from the City and ADOT available to speak about the upcoming Bell Road/Grand Avenue intersection project.
I will close for now so be good to yourself and be good to each other.
Councilman Roland F. Winters Jr.