Watch the Mayor's Town Talk Tuesday.
11/17/20 Town Talk Tuesday Transcript – I want to wish you a wonderful holiday season, and in so doing, bring you up-to-date on the many activities and efforts of our Town in this video version of “Town Talk Tuesday.”
I started TTT’s in the spirit of our late Mayor Wally Nichols’ “Coffee with Wally” to regularly touch base with residents. Normally, we would alternate Council Members to attend so everyone has a chance to get to know each other better. I hope to resume in-person gatherings like that soon.
This has been a very different, challenging year for most of us in Fountain Hills. I want to applaud the outstanding efforts of many in our community, including staff and elected leaders, tending to the needs in our Town.
It goes without saying that residents, businesses, and many of our visitors have had to endure hardships that we never imagined just one year ago. We acknowledge and honor those losses.
My continued focus remains on our collective health and well-being, advocating for following COVID protocols while identifying ways to achieve some measure of progress at the same time. It is my hope that these most difficult times will soon be behind us.
I want to recognize the contributions of outgoing Council Members Dennis Brown, Art Tolis and Sherry Leckrone. They have served our community for a combination of nearly 20 years on your Town Council, and even longer on several commissions and committees.
At the same time, I welcome newly-elected Councilman Gerry Friedel who was appointed to take his seat recently, and look forward to working with Councilwomen Sharron Grzybowski and Peggy McMahon starting in December as they begin their elected service.
Together we will aspire to match the legacy of local leaders we have lost recently, and add to their immeasurable contributions.
During this year, your government has continued to provide the services necessary to keep our Town moving forward. Despite the pandemic, we’ve made progress in several areas that I believe are important to the long-term health and vibrance of Fountain Hills.
First, there are many obvious changes worth noting, including an array of capital-funded projects: the widening of Fountain Hills Blvd,. completion of the traffic circle at the Town Hall intersection, downtown and local street paving, repair of the Centennial Circle pavers, repainting municipal buildings, the library remodel, and playground, trail and drainage improvements to our parks and public spaces. Your Town government has continued to ensure that these important improvements were made throughout the pandemic.
There are less-obvious efforts to highlight, such as technology upgrades, plus the addition of a new community relations manager, adding transparency and clarity.
Also, a variety of Town administrative-process initiatives were set in motion including:
1) Completion of an infrastructure analysis of our roads, resulting in a 10-year Pavement Management Plan;
2) A comprehensive assessment of Fountain Lake and pump infrastructure with resulting actions;
3) An update of Vision Fountain Hills and the Strategic Plan;
4) Undertaking a Parks Master Plan and
5) the initiation of an Active Transportation Plan addressing pedestrians and cyclists.
At the same time, the Town submitted 13 projects to the Maricopa Association of Governments for consideration in the Proposition 400 renewal package which will provide transportation financing county-wide for the next 20 years.
We completed a public input process and documentation to create a picture of our Town’s future. And thanks to the voters of FH, passed that 10-year General Plan on Nov. 3rd by a wide margin.
We’ve also undertaken a serious effort to address speeding and other issues of concern in our Town with the help of a Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee which recommended and implemented many changes with more to come.
The Mayor’s Youth Council is in full swing, and we added a Student-of-the-Month program in partnership with FHUSD.
Staff interfaces regularly with the Sanitary District on mutual needs and projects, such as the Fountain Park restrooms, and we have strengthened partnerships with SRP, Cox and EPCOR.
The Town negotiated an extension with Republic Services to continue quality waste management including some added services at no cost. All the while, we continue to work side by side with MCSO and Rural Metro to ensure our safety and security. Civil rights, public health, elections and emergency response (including for wildfires) have been regular parts of our lives in 2020. Working on these and other efforts, such as Make a Difference Day, was tackled by Town volunteers, staff, law enforcement, fire and Council without fanfare, but greatly appreciated.
You can’t help but notice significant building projects underway. “Havenly,” a master-planned housing community in Town Center, is progressing nicely. The FH Medical Center is nearing completion at Saguaro and Shea. Adero, formerly Copperwynd, wrapped up their first round of resort improvements, including a conference center, becoming a property of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. At the same time, smaller condo projects, many single-family homes and a host of remodel projects are being planned and built throughout our community.
A new trail was blazed connecting Adero to our Preserve, plus a road paved by Toll Brothers provides convenient public access to the Adero Canyon Trailhead. All these activities are indicators of confidence and a desire to invest and grow in Fountain Hills.
Our region is generating excitement, with our neighbors the FMYN and SRPMIC expanding their attractions and enterprises in safe and successful ways.
On the business front, there is no question that times have been difficult, but the Town has moved to address as many issues as it legally can during this pandemic.
We applied for and received nearly $3M in Federal Cares Act funding and established a Small Business Assistance Grant program, in addition to other accommodations.
The Town has added staff to proactively address economic development along with the Chamber and other organizations throughout our community. New and existing establishments have opened, been remodeled or relocated to attract and retain customers.
I believe overall the Town’s response to inquiries, concerns, and ideas has improved as we were able to reorganize human resources to address a broad range of needs in and out of the business arena.
We celebrated the 30th anniversary of our Town in Dec 2019. Thanks to a dedicated committee of local citizens chaired by Alan and Brent Cruikshank, a whole host of events were planned throughout 2020 in anticipation of the 50th Anniversary of our world-famous Fountain this coming December 15th.
Unfortunately, many of those events and other Town activities have been scaled down or postponed due to the pandemic, but we plan to celebrate on Dec. 15th with a special Fountain lighting ceremony after the Town Council meeting.
There are other fun things happening, including a 50th Photo Exhibition recognizing contest winners at the CC, and a 50-year Time Capsule that will document for the future our namesake Fountain.
We still hope to have a belated 50th Anniversary of the Fountain party on January 30th or beyond if necessary.
I have no doubt we will find a way to get together as neighbors and friends in celebration.
So, in many ways, we continue to grow and improve by providing new services and amenities, while addressing on-going needs.
It is my hope that 2021 will bring the renewal of the activities we had to cancel or postpone… our unique signature events of Fountain Hills… that we’ll enjoy a revitalization of our business and arts communities, and that local Government will provide the leadership to guide our hometown in a unifying and welcoming way.
As soon as we can gather safely, Town Talk Tuesdays will be back so I and other Council Members can have the opportunity to meet with you and discuss important topics of the day. Meanwhile, our contact information can be found at www.fh.az.gov.
Finally, I look forward to sharing with you in detail the “State-of-the-Town” on January 26th.
I hope you have an enjoyable and safe holiday season, and I look forward to continuing to serve as your Mayor of Fountain Hills!