Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
Unity among residents, business and civic leaders was called for by Steve Shute, Gardner mayor, during his state of the city address held at the Hamptons Inn May 15.
During the address, titled “building bridges,” Shute said he devoted most of the past year to building bridges between city hall and other intergovernmental agencies including better relationships with the school and fire districts as well as with civic organizations like the chamber of commerce and the Southwest Johnson county economic development council.
“There are three T’s to the transformation of our organization. Trust, transparency and teamwork,” he said adding that building bridges of understanding offers an opportunity for everyone to serve.
“We may be known as the city where the trails divide, but we don’t have to be divided as a community,” he said, referring to the famous Santa Fe and Oregon trails.
He said that in the last year, the city had attracted $105 million in private investments including 13 new businesses that created more than 460 new jobs in the community.
“The Kansas City Business Journal ranked Gardner as the third fastest growing city in Kansas. We embraced that growth by bolstering our residential inventory, which included creating three new housing subdivisions to help us keep up with the surging demand,” he said.
He said the city was committed to maintaining and improving physical infrastructure within the city and singled out improvements to Waverly Road, the expansion of the city’s water capacity and the upgrade of the I-35 Gardner Road interchange as examples of upcoming projects in the city.
Gardner continued to enhance the quality of life of residents through several outreach programs that seek to promote positive interaction with law enforcement, health and wellness and community pride, Shute continued.
“It is our goal to offer quality of life services that meet the social needs of every person that calls Gardner home,” he said.
Shute cited training of police officers in mental health first aid program, participation in multiple special Olympic events and major improvements to Gardner Golf Course as some of the quality of life projects the city supported in 2018.
The event was attended by about 100, including residents, area government officials, and business and civic leaders.
In the 2018 address Shute introduced four goals for his first term: to annex 2,500 acres across I-35; improved transportation including rebuilding Gardner Rd interchange,improvements to Waverly Rd, and an interchange at I-35 and Moonlight; establishing renewable resources, specifically solar power and a municipal fiber optic network. Shute characterized the city’s leadership as stable and had strategic goals for economic development. “Our leadership is stable, and it will be demonstrated in our actions,” he said in 2018.