The year 2016 was an extremely productive time for Gardner as our talented, hardworking staff consistently completed challenging projects to meet and exceed the needs of the community. The governing body guided the vision and set priorities aligned with the city’s strategic goals: Promote Economic Development, Improve Quality of Life, Increase Infrastructure and Asset Management, and Increase Fiscal Stewardship.
We are excited to announce that our aggressive economic development efforts have started to take shape in Gardner. Residential developments are thriving, and we opened the doors to several new businesses. Last year, 98 housing units were built throughout the city, adding nearly $2 million in property valuation for Gardner. We expect to reap similar results in 2017. We also celebrated the opening of Orscheln Farm and Home, a new Subway, and several specialty businesses that provide the unique and diverse needs of our residents. We made significant progress on the CVS project, and the company plans to break ground later this year. From residential housing to new business developments and expansions, we received $18.5 million of private investments into our community. Economic development is in full swing, and we will keep that momentum going forward.
Also in 2016, we launched our new brand identity, complete with a new website to serve as a resource to residents and visitors, and help promote the city. Currently our website averages more than 3,500 visits per week, which demonstrates the increasing interest in Gardner and the effectiveness of the website as an information source.
Residents saw their tax dollars at work with the completion of Phase 1 of our Pavement Management Program. We completed 27 lane miles of improvements throughout the city, changing the Pavement Conditions Index Rating from bad to good. Enhancing our infrastructure not only serves our traveling public, but it also makes our city more desirable to business developers. Staff is currently preparing to implement Phase 2 of the program later this year.
Another infrastructure project for 2016 was the renovation of the Gardner Senior Center. This newly remodeled facility now includes Americans with Disabilities Act interior and exterior access, an upgraded community room with new furnishings, kitchen enhancements and sophisticated audio/visual technology. The city accomplished this renovation with the aid of a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant. This type of funding helps us improve our community, while offsetting costs to our residents. In late 2015, we established a Grant Program to help us actively pursue more grant opportunities. Within a year, the program produced $2.2 million in funding, and we hope to make this a continual trend.
To further our efforts in remaining one of the safest cities in Kansas for our residents, we added a K9 Unit to augment narcotics detection and provide patrol support capabilities. We understand public safety is of primary importance to our residents, and we will continue to add tools and implement programs that will enhance Gardner’s already safe environment.
The 100-plus special events and sporting activities we offered last year also speak to the city’s commitment to maintaining our residents’ high quality of life. Our Fourth of July Celebration, in particular, drew in a record-breaking crowd from various counties and states, and validated Gardner as a progressive and thriving city. Residents can expect more event options this year.
Those are just a few of our accomplishments of 2016. The mayor will reveal more successes at his State of the City Address on March 8.
To close, I want to recognize our strong public engagement. From completing city surveys to faithfully serving on one of our boards, commissions or committees, we thank you for your unwavering commitment and significant contribution to the city. Our on-going partnership will propel Gardner into becoming a sustainable and prosperous community, and together, we will “blaze new trails.”
Development increases in 2016