Commuters were able to cruise over the new Bell Road Bridge at Grand Avenue on their way to work this morning, as the Arizona Department of Transportation officially opened the road at 12:15 a.m.
The city of Surprise hosted a pre-celebration on Monday in the Surprise Marketplace parking lot to officially kick-off the 2016 Holiday Season and to thank the area businesses, residents and drivers for their patience during the seven-month closure of Bell Road.
“To the customers that continued to shop these businesses, thank you for realizing that they were ALWAYS open and for supporting them,” said Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “And to those that took a different commute during the closure, I invite you to come back to this area. No more stopping for the train and three new businesses have opened since the closure began in April, with two others opening this fall. Come check them out!”
Representatives from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce also spoke at the event that was attended by neighboring elected officials, residents and local businesses.
As a “thank you” for supporting the businesses around the Bell and Grand intersection attendees received Surprise shopping bags, filled with vendor coupons and promotional items. A perfect reminder to Shop Surprise this holiday season!
The Bell Road closure was part of the ADOT US 60 (Grand Ave) and Bell Road Interchange project which began in January 2016. By closing Bell for 7 months, construction delays were avoided during two Spring Training Seasons and this year’s holiday shopping season.
The entire Bell-Grand project, including the ramps connecting Grand Avenue to Bell Road, is scheduled to be complete prior to Spring Training 2017 at the Surprise Recreation Campus. In the meantime, your Bell to Grand Avenue access remains on Dysart Road, east of the intersection and Bell to Reems to Grand, west of the intersection.
Greetings to all of my District 1 friends, neighbors and to all of the residents who have the privilege of living in this beautiful city we call Surprise. On November 8, you will have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process of voting for your favorite candidates. You’ll also have the chance to vote on a $63 million General Obligation Bond measure for our city that, if approved by voters, will fund nine capital improvement projects.
I began the month of October with the ribbon cutting of Caliber Collision, an auto body repair company located on Bell Road just east of Grand Avenue. The facility is state-of-the-art, clean and exceptionally organized. We were provided with a tour that included their new paint process that eliminates fumes. Welcome to Surprise, Caliber!
The city hosted a Surprise Forward outreach meeting at Arizona Traditions on October 12. The meeting was led by City Manager Bob Wingenroth and included a thorough presentation on the bond initiative on the General Election ballot.
The Committee on Community Outreach, Partnerships and Grants met on Thursday, October 13 to review grant applications for the Neighborhood Grant Program. The program provides eligible neighborhoods with small grants to fund neighborhood events, functions and even community improvements that would encourage community engagement and further build strong relationships within the communities in Surprise. The Committee is compromised of Councilwoman and Chair Rachel Villanueva, Councilman John Williams and myself. The two applicants were awarded $3,000 each for their respective projects. With that being said, the program application deadline was extended to November 30, 2016. For more information, please visit Neighborhood Grant Program or contact Jodi Tas at 623.222.1330.
I hosted my regular monthly meeting at the Retreat Community Center in Arizona Traditions on Friday, October 14. I provided a city update to the attendees.
Surprise Honda hosted their official grand opening and ribbon cutting on Monday, October 17. Councilman Skip Hall and I attended the event and toured the large operation and beautiful facility that includes virtual golf for those waiting for service. Surprise Honda has been a welcome addition to the Prasada Auto Mall since their soft opening in mid-August.
I was invited to attend the Northwest Ranch HOA meeting on Thursday, October 20 to discuss the bond as well as other issues the residents of the fine community requested. Several city staff members accompanied me. I wanted to personally thank Community Manager Melanie Veach, Kelly Hall and the remainder of the Northwest Ranch HOA Board for the invitation as well as the city staff which included Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance, Assistant City Manager Mike Frazier, Police Chief Terry Young, Public Works Director Mike Gent, Assistant Fire Chief Brenden Espie, Police Sergeant Tim Klarkowski, Police Officer Jennifer Booth, Assistant Director of CRS Donna Miller, and Assistant Finance Director Jared Askelson.
My family and I attended the open house at Fire Station #304 the morning of October 22. I enjoyed speaking to many of my constituents from District 1 including residents from Asante, Desert Oasis and many more. Thank you to the firefighters for hosting such a great community event!
Later that day, I attended the Surprise Farms V block party with HOA Board President Les Phillips and residents of this fairly new community. We were greeted with warm hospitality and good food!
Additionally, we attended the Tip-A-Cop event held at Red Robin on October 20. This event is a great opportunity to raise money for Special Olympics. Representatives from Surprise Police Department waited on customers and collected tips for the fundraiser.
I closed the evening of October 20 with a block party at Arizona Traditions at the Retreat where I continued to mingle with residents and share productive conversations with my neighbors.
Desert Oasis HOA hosted their annual meeting on October 24. We were asked to provide an overview of the bond initiative. I’d like to thank the staff that accompanied me that evening – Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance, Fire Chief Tom Abbott, Police Chief Terry Young, Finance Director Lindsey Duncan, Public Works Director Mike Gent and CRS Manager Paul Frie.
City leaders and GateWay Community College administrators gathered at the Surprise-GateWay Training Center on October 26 to officially cut the ribbon on the new 13,100 square foot facility. The observation-centric training facility provides individuals interested in pursuing careers in the water and wastewater professions new opportunities for hands-on learning in the West Valley. In addition to training space, the center provides mission critical labs and assembly facilities for city water professionals. The center is located on the grounds of the South Plant (SPA1) Water Reclamation Facility; a facility that currently processes over 8 million gallons of water per day making it a logical location for practical learning.
As a reminder, please don’t forget that Bell Road will be opening on Tuesday, November 22. The city is currently planning an appreciation event tentatively scheduled for Monday, November 21 to thank the businesses, residents and partners for their patience during the closure. I hope to see you there! More information will soon follow.
Until next month, please be good to yourself and be good to others.
City Manager Bob Wingenroth announced Tuesday night that Fitch Ratings, one of the “Big Three” nationally recognized credit rating agencies, has upgraded the city’s Excise Tax and State-Shared Revenue Obligation (ETRO) bond rating to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.
Fitch stated the “rating reflects a solid coverage cushion and expectations for strong pledged revenue growth.”
Fitch also upgraded the city’s Long-Term Issuer Default rating (IDR) to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.
In reviewing the city’s economic base Fitch noted, “The city’s 2015 population of 128,422 has realized a rapid 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past 15 years and its median household income exceeds that of the U.S. by 16%.”
In commenting on the city’s operating performance Fitch reported, “Fitch expects Surprise to maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic downturns based on its ample revenue raising capacity and solid financial flexibility, supplemented by its ample reserves.”
“We are very pleased with this news,” says Finance Director Lindsey Duncan. “In following the financial policy direction as set by City Council, we have been able to do an amazing job of managing city revenues in a responsible manner and these favorable ratings verify that.” A city’s credit rating is important due to its impact on interest rates in the bond market. A better rating means the city can sell bonds to finance capital projects and pay a lower interest rate to the buyer.
The agency also issued a rating outlook of Stable.