The 2018 Gardner State of the City Address delivered by Steve Shute, mayor, on March 6 contained several new announcements – among them was that Olathe Health is planning a Urgent Care and Specialty Center medical building on Gardner Road near I-35 and that the city plans to annex 2500 acres along the south side of I-35. Shute promised that next year’s State of the City would be held at the Hampton Inn conference center currently under construction in Gardner. Staff photos by Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner 2018 Annual State of the City Address was held on March 6 at the Ball Conference Center in Olathe. Steve Shute, newly elected mayor, gave his first state of the city address.
Lee Moore, Gardner city council president, served as master of ceremonies. Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator, began welcoming remarks by thanking American Legion, Post #19 for posting the colors, and Joe Rogers, Wheatridge Middle School sixth grade student, for singing the national anthem.
Joey Lang, Grace Baptist Church pastor, gave the invocation.
Moore introduced Shute, describing him as a dedicated public servant, who would have a greater impact as mayor.
“We will be known as a city of innovation, and we will set a path for other cities to follow,” Moore said.
“I introduce to you, visionary, change agent, and my good friend, Steve Shute,”said Moore.
Shute began by recognizing military veterans and first responders, city council members, and city staff, asking members of each group to stand for recognition.
A video summarizing the city highlights of 2017 was shown. After the video, Shute again thanked staff for their accomplishments and asked for another round of applause.
Shute credited the groundwork done by council and staff over the past five years that brought Gardner to this moment.
“I stand before you today to report that the state of the city of Gardner Kansas is strong and getting stronger, and we are moving confidently in the right direction, and that we are enthusiastic about the possibilities now before us,” he said.
”As you can see from just watching our video highlights, we have lit the fire are we are blazing new trails,” said Shute.
Shute mentioned work done to amend or create new policy and code that is the foundation for future plans, including the Comprehensive Plan and development codes, economic development and incentive policies, completed utility studies, and publishing of a Capital Improvement Element (CIE) – which gives a strategic look at infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.
He spoke of efforts to engage the community, such as the creation of citizen advisory committees.
“As you can see, these efforts have already begun to make a significant impact,” said Shute.
He referred to two major 2017 developments, Excelligence and Hampton Inn, and recognized the owners who were in attendance. He cited the openings of CVS and Dairy Queen.
“And we have 400 new homes coming online in the next twelve months. Including Tuscan Farms, which is very important because it is our first planned residential community on the other side of I-35,” Shute said to applause.
“Today, I can announce for the first time publicly, that we are going to be partnering with Olathe Health for phase one of its development at I-35 and Gardner Road.”
He said phase one would be a 10,000 square foot urgent care and specialty center with enhanced imaging services.
He indicated Olathe Health is invested in the community, with three family care clinics already in town and has the space to expand to meet growing needs of Gardner, Edgerton and the surrounding community.
Shute outlined four items he plans to accomplish during his term.
“Today I would like to introduce you to four visionary projects that we are lighting the fire under to take Gardner to the next level,” said Shute.
First was a commitment to a goal to annex “at least 2500 acres of land on the other side of I-35, as well as other annexation opportunities,” during his first term.
The second project was plans to improve the transportation system, including a rebuilt Gardner Road interchange. He also mentioned plans for improvements to Waverly Road and “beginning designs, during my term, of a new interchange at I-35 and Moonlight Road.”
Third was re-evaluating the use of renewable resources, specifically solar power.
Fourth, Shute said an initiative was being launched to establish a city fiber network that will bring faster and more affordable internet to Gardner. He said citizens would soon be asked to participate in a survey regarding internet service.
Shute said these were lofty goals but with hard work and vision it can be done.
He defined ingredients needed for continued growth and to strengthen Gardner’s image – vision, synergy, stability, quality and maturity.
“All the traits necessary to continue to light the fire and blaze new trails,” said Shute.
He said council is unanimous in its strategic goals for economic development and that the governing body is committed to annexing land to maintain long term viability and growth.
“Our leadership is stable ,and it will be demonstrated in our actions,” he said.
He said the governing body is committed to its goals of improving and expanding the transportation system and embracing technology to get things faster.
“We are committed to do whatever it takes, to set aside any differences we might have, in achieving our shared vision. Inside of our organization, our leadership is stable and proven, and we will work tirelessly to retain our exceptional staff,” said Shute.
“We are a high performance organization, committed to service excellence, and the world needs to know it,” he said.
“We are bold. We are confident. We are determined. Gardner is a city with a great history and an even brighter future.”
“Gardner, let’s continue to blaze new trails together into the future and may God richly bless us in our endeavors,” Shute said in closing.