Gardner city administrator
This is an exciting time in Gardner as we diligently prepare for the endless possibilities awaiting this great city. In 2015, through the leadership and guidance of Mayor Chris Morrow and the city council, city staff continued to prepare the highest quality of work as they pursued opportunities that focused on maintaining and improving the city’s existing infrastructure and assets, improving the quality of life for its citizens, planning for economic growth, and enhancing fiscal stewardship to efficiently promote core services.
Excellent progress was made in the area of economic development. We continued to build upon our work from the previous year to position Gardner for long-term economic growth and prosperity. Two major successes in this area included the completion of our Growth Management Strategy that identifies the city’s future growth areas and developmental direction; and the Economic Development Incentive Policy to help attract businesses and site developers to Gardner. Last year, we also began updating our Land Development Code to simplify processes and eliminate unwarranted challenges for businesses looking to reside in Gardner. The rewrite of the land development code will also better align with our updated Comprehensive Plan and will be completed within the year.
Infrastructure and asset management was also a key area of focus. Last year, the city completed an evaluation of its water, wastewater and electric utilities. These assessments provided a baseline of the current condition of the city’s utilities and provided recommendations on the areas in need of attention. Having a clear understanding of our assets will help us prioritize these improvement projects and allow us to better prepare for future growth.
A pavement assessment was also conducted, indicating that by 2025, only five percent of streets would be in satisfactory condition. The rest would rate “fair” to “failed.” But, because of your confidence in leadership and city staff, 63 percent of you voted for a half-cent (0.5 percent) Special Purpose Sales Tax Renewal to address the city’s infrastructure needs and to help improve the quality of life for our citizens.
Another infrastructure/asset management-related project for 2015 was the major improvements completed to the Aquatic Center. The project included the replacement of the gutter system and painting and coating of the slides, replacement of chemical controllers, replacement of the bathhouse roof, and the installation of additional security cameras for public safety. The Aquatic Center is frequented by more than 1,000 visitors a day during the summer. This level of attendance demonstrates the facility’s contribution to our community’s quality of life and the need to keep it maintained.
Year 2015, the governing body made a strong push for public involvement. The city launched its first Citizens Academy to help residents and local business owners learn more about city government and its programs and services. The governing body also created five new citizen advisory committees that offered residents an opportunity to participate in helping to shape the community’s future and enhance the quality of life for their fellow residents. These citizen groups include the:
• ADA Advisory Committee
• Economic Development Advisory Committee
• Citizens Police Advisory Committee
• Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee
• Streets, Sidewalks and Stormwater Advisory Committee
Lastly, the governing body wrapped up the year by approving a new brand identity for the city, consisting of a new logo that represents speed, forward movement and progress. “Blazing New Trails” serves as the official tagline, and together with the logo symbolizes both the city’s historic trails and its vision for continued business growth and development. The brand officially launched in January of this year.
As I wrap up, I would also like to recognize the awards and recognitions received by the city this past year, including the:
• Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting
• Distinguished Budget Presentation Award
• Water Treatment Award for efficient fluoride adjustments
• Wastewater Plant of the Year Award for our wastewater converting process
• Tree City USA Recognition for our sound forestry management
• Special Event of the Year Award for the Summer Splash event for the reopening of the renovated Gardner Aquatic Center.
While I’ve highlighted just a few accomplishments for 2015, there are several more you will be able to review in our Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report that will be available online next month. It chronicles a year of hard work and service excellence by city employees, striving to provide services that benefit and enrich the community.
As we settle into 2016, I’m excited for what the future holds. There is much more work to be done to make Gardner a prosperous and thriving city, but we accept the challenge. We also know that you are our partners, and together, we will succeed in creating a brighter future for this city.
Thank you for standing with us as we “blaze new trails.”