Tag Archives: Economic Development

D3 Quarterly Newsletter – May 2017

This year is certainly passing quickly. There are so many exciting things happening in Surprise! I’m grateful to be part of it.


We are rapidly approaching the end of our (FY) 2018 budget discussion. At the City Council meeting on May 2, City Council adopted the tentative budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2018 in the amount of $336.9 million. This includes $276.2 million of expenses and $60.7 million of transfers between different funds within the City. This represents an increase of $0.4 million from the City Manager’s recommended budget presented on April 18.

Operating expenses account for $162 million or 48% of the total budget. This includes a Peak Time Response Unit to strengthen Fire response times and two community policing officers, both programs partially funded by grants. A third ambulance will be brought into service funded through transport revenues. Capital Improvement expenses total $49.7 million, a large portion of which is dedicated to maintaining or replacing infrastructure and equipment.

The FY2018 tentative budget also includes $56.6 million in contingency that is set aside for future planned or potentially unforeseen purposes. In addition to the budgeted amounts, the City will have $37.2 million held in reserve. The budget is balanced, meaning that the sources of funds is greater than or equal to the uses of funds for FY2018. This is the first step in adopting the fiscal year budget and sets the maximum expenditure limit for the upcoming fiscal year that starts on July 1. The Council will look to finalize the process by adopting the final budget on June 6 and the property tax levy on June 20.

Council to vote June 6 on potential bond election this November

City staff briefed City Council on three proposed General Obligation Bond questions in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation, at the May 16th Work Session.

The three proposed questions and projects, as presented to Council, were determined based on community needs, comments received from residents during the 2016 bond election outreach process, and input received during and after the Surprise Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee’s April 19 meeting.

Proposed Question #1: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $34 million public safety bond proposal to: build a Public Safety Evidence & Readiness Center; renovate an existing city facility into a Police Training Facility; acquire Land for Future Fire Station/Police Substation & Park; build a new Fire Station at Cactus and Litchfield roads; build a new Fire Station along 163rd Avenue, south of Happy Valley Road, to replace the current temporary station; and build a Public Works Operations Facility to centralize operations. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $26 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Proposed Question #2: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $15.5 million street bond proposal to provide funds to plan, design, construct and improve Waddell, Greenway and Litchfield roads. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $12 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Proposed Question #3: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $10 million street pavement preservation bond proposal to plan, design, construct, replace and improve deteriorated street pavement citywide. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $8 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Per City Council consensus at the Work Session, staff will bring back a Call to Election action item at the June 6 Regular Council Meeting. If approved, the three separate bond questions would appear on the ballot in a Special Election on November 7. All registered voters in Surprise will receive a ballot by mail.

View the May 16 Work Session bond discussion

City Council Work Sessions begin at 4 p.m. and Regular Meetings begin at 6 p.m. They are open to the public and carried live on Surprise TV and online www.surpriseaz.gov/surprise11. All meeting agendas are posted online at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting at www.surpriseaz.gov.

Community Development

Surprise is most definitely growing and District 3 can personally attest to it. We’ve recently approved the annexation of Magnolia Farms which was formerly Maricopa County land and many new developments are moving along.

Zanjero Trails located on the northwest corner of Peoria Avenue and Perryville Road is under construction with parcels 12A, 12B and 13A. The current home builders are Gehan, Beazer, and Meritage Homes. Currently, the developer is proposing a preliminary plat for parcel 16 & 17, consisting of 103 single family homes and is scheduled to go before Planning and Zoning on May 2.

Magnolia Development will be moving forward with rezoning and preliminary plat for 175th Avenue and Sweetwater Avenue, for approximately 55 single family homes. The development is located west of Cotton Lane between Waddell Road and Cactus Road just south of the Sweetwater alignment. The remaining parcels should follow shortly after that but at this time, we do not have a timeline.

Acoma Court located between Custer Lane and Acoma Drive west of 157th Lane is under construction. The home builder is Garrett Walker Homes.

Prasada Development at the Walmart Center is proposing an 8,300 square foot Multi-Tenant Retail Building, currently under site plan review.

Toll Brother’s Proposed Development is a masterplan concept on 765 acres with a modified 18-hole championship golf course surrounded by residential homes.

Sierra Montana Crossing – The developer has submitted a site plan for an 8,000 square foot multi-tenant retail shop building that will be facing Cotton Lane. The retail shop building can accommodate a mixture of future retail tenants, such as a drive-thru coffee shop or fast food or a restaurant with an outdoor patio.

Greenway Crossing is located on the northwest corner of Greenway Road and Loop 303. The developer is proposing a project to divide the existing single lot into four separate parcels with a new Plat. It is proposed that the three new parcels on the front (south) part of the lot will be developed with a mix of retail and restaurants with drive-thru facilities. The site plan request was heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission on May 18 with the final plat to be heard by City Council on June 6.

National League of Cities Conference

I recently returned from the National League of Cities (NLC) Congressional Conference in Washington, D.C. This annual conference brings more than 1,000 elected and appointed city leaders together to discuss local, state and federal policy issues, establish and further develop relationships with our Congress and discuss best practices with similar municipalities throughout the country.

In addition to attending a session on the economic forecast, funding infrastructure, youth programing and discussions on the Affordable Care Act, I attended meetings as a member of the NLC Human Development Committee. This year was hyper-focused on the federal budget and the potential impact of funding changes. Here is a summary of some of the issues:

  • The current administration has considered more than $6 billion in cuts at the US Department of Housing & Urban Development this upcoming budget cycle. The plan would tighten public housing support and terminate most federally funded community development grants which provide services such as meal assistance and clean-up of housing in low-income neighborhoods.
  • The proposed EPA reductions that could cut back more than two dozen programs that allow city leaders to protect resources, prepare for natural disasters and promote healthy/strong communities. The reductions also include a 20 percent downsizing of the EPA’s 15,000 workforce and a 25 percent reduction of its $8.1 billion budget. The plan would require congressional approval.
  • FEMA cuts that reduce potential disaster relief funding.
  • Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program could be eliminated.
  • The pros and cons to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were discussed. Advocacy for a non-partisan health care plan, either maintaining ACA or providing a replacement that will enhance the strengths of the ACA, without impacting health care coverage to our residents and ensuring that the cost of repeal is not shifted to local municipalities were part of the discussion.
    • Concerns were shared regarding mental health coverage, as well as treatment for drug addiction, specifically opiod addiction.
    • Current proposal from the White House eliminates Medicaid. Cities need to be proactive as to who will resume those services.

NLC encouraged local municipalities to focus on public safety, infrastructure, and the economy and to continue discussions with local officials to focus on supporting infrastructure projects that produce jobs, specifically in transportation, water, and fiber.

Ottawa University

Surprise is a college town! Earlier this year, Ottawa University announced that they are transitioning into a 4-year residential college in Surprise with classes beginning this fall. Ottawa will offer a full complement of academic, athletic and student activity programs including multiple undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Furthermore, the university will be home to 21 varsity men’s and women’s sports teams including baseball, basketball, golf, and soon football. The university is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association and will be working toward a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) designation. Upon award of the designation, OUAZ would be one of only four NAIA programs in Arizona. The school mascot is a grey wolf and the sports teams are called the Spirit.

City Council and Ottawa senior staff in front of the new campus in Surprise.

Ottawa University President Kevin C. Eichner announced the university aims to enroll 250 students for its first semester of classes at the new campus, with a target of up to 3,000 residential students over 10 years, adding to its current 8,300 alumni roll in the Arizona market.

The future 35-acre OUAZ campus will be embedded within the Surprise City Center, integrating with the existing 250-acre City of Surprise Civic Center and Recreation campus. The school will also launch out of existing space within the Civic Center. Expansion plans for the campus include the development of residential housing, an indoor activity center, dining and conference space, and new athletic fields, including a stadium with artificial turf for football and soccer.

Economic Development

Our Economic Development Department continues to work hard to bring more business to Surprise. While District 3 has seen the opening of Subaru Superstore of Surprise, Panda Express and Goodwill this last quarter, more will be coming. Most recently, Planning and Zoning approved a conditional use permit/site plan for a Sonic drive in restaurant. Over the last three months, we’ve seen the openings of Firehouse Subs, Dairy Queen, Arizona Federal Credit Union, and Luv 2 Play.

Image of the Subaru Superstore of Surprise facility

Thanks to our engaged city, we were able to collect data that helped identify the city’s retail strengths as well as opportunities to bring additional amenities closer to home. Some of our desired restaurants include In-N-Out Burger, Portillo’s, Sweet Tomatoes, Pita Jungle and El Pollo Loco. Some of our top ten desired retailers include Costco, Hobby Lobby, Whole Foods and Home Goods.

Residents also voted for their local favorites which included Jim’s Burgers and Eggs, Babbo’s Italian Eatery, Rio Mirage, and Saigon Kitchen. Local favorite retailers included Kimbur’s Pet Wash, Kohl’s, Musical Surprise, Target, Son Glow Boutique and Walmart.

West Valley Youth Leadership Initiative

Over the last six months, I have been meeting with executives from Leadership West to develop a West Valley youth leadership initiative. The program would involve high school students from Surprise and our surrounding cities and provide them with opportunities to partner and collaborate with their peers, elected officials and other leaders in the West Valley. Empowering youth to serve as advocates to local issues, fostering pride in community service and emphasizing the value of civic engagement are some of our goals we will accomplish.

I recently hosted a passionate discussion with other elected officials that was very successful. We hope to begin the program this fall! For more information, please contact me.

Surprise Youth Council Update

Level 4

On the night of Saturday February 25, you may have seen an array of multi-colored lights in the sky and heard the sound of laughter and dance music cascading down from the 4th floor of the Civic Center parking garage. This was Level 4; the first annual social event planned and executed by the Surprise Youth Council, featuring music, dancing, a host of games like air hockey and old school arcade favorites, live art, food, and much more. From 6 to 9 p.m., more than 220 teenagers from high schools all around Surprise came to dance, eat, and socialize with friends in a positive and unique environment unlike any other in the City. Part dance club, part rooftop party, Level 4 provided teens with the experience of an exciting big city event here in their hometown. The City of Surprise’s Youth Services Division is committed to developing Level 4 into one the City’s signature youth events, growing our youth’s sense of connection to their community and the City’s reputation as an innovative and forward thinking organization which is truly invested in the quality of life of our youth. Stay tuned for more exciting events, programs, and initiatives coming out of Surprise’s Youth Services Division.

General Recap

The Surprise Youth Council has been busy delivering valuable programs and services to our local high school students. Over the course of three weeks in March, four SYC members put on a 7-part BLOOM 365 workshop series dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and combating teen dating violence at Paradise Honors High School. The response to this training series has been overwhelmingly positive, with students engaging one another in important conversations around consent, abuse, and healthy boundaries. Many of the students who attended the trainings have shared that the information they received changed their perspective on what it means to be in a healthy relationship and said it has encouraged them to stand up for themselves and others. The SYC is currently in negotiations with the Dysart Unified School District (DUSD) and plans to run the BLOOM 365 workshop in DUSD schools this fall.

The SYC is dedicated to supporting the academic success of local students and has worked hard to provide our community with opportunities for developing academic skills. Most recently, SYC members organized and helped facilitate a free SAT preparation course at one of our local Surprise libraries. The course was taught by an experienced SAT tutor and allowed more than 25 students to learn best practice strategies for taking the test, as well as ask questions pertaining to their personal academic needs.

One of the SYC’s other recent priorities has been to ensure that the Council’s makeup accurately represents the makeup of our community as a whole. The months of February and March are the Council’s recruitment period and SYC members explored new strategies for recruitment which would ensure that they were able to reach a wide range of candidates whose diversity in background, experience, and skills would deepen the impact made by the Council. They utilized social media, school counselors, local affinity groups, and passed out flyers in underrepresented neighborhoods in order to achieve these goals. These efforts were largely successful. SYC membership has now significantly increased. With new members come new ideas and new opportunities to do meaningful work for the youth in our community. The Surprise Youth Council is excited for bright days ahead.

New SYC Members and City Council in Surprise City Hall Council Chambers.
New SYC Members were sworn in at the City Council meeting on May 2.

Dysart Unified School District Recent Athletic Wins

Earlier this spring, Ottawa University Arizona head baseball coach Tim Montez announced his first signing class that consisted of four players from Surprise! Please join me in congratulating Outfielder and Pitcher Dylan Chelini from Valley Vista, Catcher Eric Ramos and Outfielder and Pitcher Lester Acoba from Willow Canyon High School, and Outfielder and Pitcher Adam Bronston from Shadow Ridge High School!

City Council recognized the Valley Vista High School Girls 6A State Champion Basketball team at a March meeting. The team is led by coach Rachel Matakas who was named 6A Coach of the Year! Teammates told us that they won because they worked hard on building a true team, one that was committed to each other and understanding of each other both on and off the court. Congratulations to the team on a 26-6 winning year and a state title!

Surprise City Council member with Valley Vista High School Girls 6A State Champion Basketball Team at Surprise City Hall Council Chambers.

Registration Underway for Several CRS Activities

The City of Surprise Community & Recreation Services Department has opened registration for the following youth sports activities:

Summer Youth Basketball League: Recreational leagues for boys and girls ages 5-15, and competitive leagues for 14U & 17U boys and girls. The summer basketball season will start in early June and run until the end of July. Games are played on Saturdays and/or weeknights. Practice times are up to the volunteer coach, but are usually once a week at 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm or 7:30 pm for one hour. Age is determined on or before July 31, 2017.

Summer Break Sports Camps: Surprise is also offering a number of Summer Youth Sports Camps in June and July, including basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer. Flag football and soccer registration starts in July. For a list of camp dates and details, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/2017/Sports-Camps-and-Clinics or call 623.222.2000.

With summer around the corner, I wanted to share a summary of recreation events as well.

May 25 – Itty Bitty Beach Party 10am-12pm @ Surprise Aquatic Center
May 27 – Open Swim begins at Surprise Aquatic Center and Hollyhock Pool
June 10 – Dive In Movie “Disney’s Moana” 7:30 – 9:30 pm
July 4 – Pool Party @ Aquatic Center
July 22 – Dive in Movie “ The LEGO Batman Movie 7:30 – 9:30 pm
May 30 – Recreation Swim & Dive Team practices begin at Surprise Aquatic Center and Summer Swim Lessons begin at Surprise Aquatic Center and Hollyhock Pool.

May 19 – Rec Night for Teens from 7-10 pm @ Sierra Montana Recreation Ctr
June 16 -Rec Night for Teens from 7-10 pm @ Sierra Montana Recreation Ctr
July 14 – Rec Night for Teens from 7-10 pm @ Sierra Montana Recreation Ctr
May 30 – Summer Camp at Countryside Recreation Center and Sierra Montana Recreation Center begin

Drop in Recreation is available at Sierra Montana.

Open Gym is available at Countryside and Villanueva Gym from 5 pm until 9 pm Monday-Friday, and 12 pm-5 pm on Saturday.

Adaptive Programs
Tuesdays in May Adaptive Buddy Bowling, Uptown Alley

May 27 – Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony 9 am @ Community Park
July 4 – Baseball and Fireworks Surprise Recreation Campus

Adult Sports
Coed Indoor Volleyball
4 on 4 Flag Football

Of course there are a variety of special interest classes and tennis classes to choose from this summer. For more information on these events, programs or classes, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/recreation.

District 3 Community Meeting

Please mark your calendars for my next community meeting – May 24 at 6 pm! The meeting will be held in the Community Room of City Hall. Everyone is welcome to attend. This is our time together to talk about what interests, ideas or concerns you have for our city. You can RSVP to Jodi Tas at Jodi.tas@surpriseaz.gov.

I hope to see you there!

Councilmember John Williams’ Quarterly Newsletter – Jan. 2016

As we begin this new year, we have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for the support of each and every one of you. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the City as Vice Mayor in 2016 and my constituents in District 3 as Councilman for the last seven years. I am also grateful for all of the fantastic things happening in Surprise. I wanted to share some of the news with you.

Bell Road/Grand Avenue Intersection Project

City Council thoroughly discussed the Bell Road/Grand Avenue intersection project in an interactive conversation with representatives for Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and ADOT during a City Council Meeting on October 20. At that time, City Council moved to proceed with the project.

City Council and staff continue to meet with ADOT concerning the communication roll-out of the Bell Road/Grand Avenue Intersection project to help mitigate the concerns of our residents and business community. ADOT, in partnership with the City, has developed a comprehensive outreach and communications program for the residents and businesses in Surprise. A Public Information Advisory Team comprised of representatives from ADOT, the City, Maricopa County, businesses and residents will assist with developing messaging, disseminating information and facilitating business outreach.

ADOT representatives are scheduled to provide an update at the City Council Work Session on Tuesday, January 19 at 4 pm in the City Council Chambers.

Upcoming Traffic Construction

There are so many Capital Improvement projects scheduled to occur in the next few months that you should be aware of. Those projects include:

Waddell Road Median (Litchfield Road to 1200 feet west): Construction began this month.

Landscaping Median (various locations): The project currently focuses on completing medians in the following locations:

  • Reems Road—Peoria to Cactus (1 mile)
  • Bullard Avenue—Peoria to Cholla (1/2 mile)
  • Waddell Road—175th to Citrus (1/2 mile)
  • Sarival Road—Bell to Northwest Ranch Parkway (900 ft)

It is expected that the request for bid public bid will close in January. Construction is expected to begin in the March/April timeframe with the individual sections prioritized as listed above.

Cactus Road (south side) from Litchfield Road to Rail Road Tracks and Litchfield Road (east side) from Cactus Road to Desert Cove Road: It is expected that the construction of the project will go out for a public bid that will close in January. Construction is expected to begin in the March/April timeframe.

Peoria Avenue (Reems Road to Sarival Avenue): Lennar has begun construction. Project is complete.

Peoria Avenue (south side) from Greer Ranch Parkway to Reems Road:Construction will commence after Lennar completes the construction on the north side.

Bullard Avenue Task Force Meeting: The community is invited to attend the next Bullard Avenue Task Force meeting on Monday, Jan. 25, 6 p.m., at the Northwest Regional Library, 16089 N. Bullard Avenue. The city worked with a grant-funded Safe Routes to School design team to create a plan that incorporates the recommendations decided on by the task force this past fall. The recommendations included retaining the 35 mile-per-hour speed limit and restoring two travel lanes in each direction. Also, due to heavier pedestrian crossings at the intersections at Acoma and Sweetwater, the group requested some traffic signals be added, along with crosswalks.

Cactus Road (north half) from 143rd Avenue to Bullard Avenue: This project includes half street improvements with a median. DMB is the project owner, with the City contributing to median costs. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2016.

Greenway Road (Bullard Avenue to Litchfield Road): This project is anticipated to be completed in summer 2016. The project includes intersection dip improvements.

Greenway and Dysart Intersection: This project will improve the existing dip section and is anticipated to be completed prior to Spring Training 2016.

A full closure of the intersection is planned for Friday, January 15 at 7:30 pm through Sunday, January 17 at 8 pm. Following full closure, there will be some finishing work that will require lane restrictions through January 24, pending no weather-related delays.

Neighborhood Grant Program

The Surprise City Council has approved funding to support a new Neighborhood Grant Program that provides eligible neighborhoods with small grants to fund neighborhood events, functions or even some community improvements.

Recognizing an opportunity to encourage community engagement and further build strong relationships with communities in Surprise, the city designated $10,000 to support this new grant program.

To be considered, projects must meet the following program criteria:

• Provide a public benefit

• Result in a product, which benefits a neighborhood or the larger Surprise Community

• Be feasible for completion by June 17, 2016

• Involve the benefiting neighborhood in project identification, planning and execution

• Emphasize neighborhood self-help; or be educational, community-building, or a public physical improvement

Additionally, a minimum of 5 neighbors within the residential area must sign the application and support the idea; neighborhoods governed by a homeowner association (HOA) must have HOA approval.

Interested communities should deliver the complete Neighborhood Grant Program application to City Hall, attention Jodi Tas, by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26.

An information session will be held Saturday, January 30 at 9:00 a.m. at Surprise City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza in the Council Overflow room.

For more information about the grant, visit the Neighborhood Grant Program webpage or contact Jodi Tas, 623.222.1330.

Recent Changes in City Ordinances

On December 4, 2015, the City of Surprise adopted several changes to ordinances related to animal ownership. In an effort to ensure all citizens are made aware of the new changes, the Surprise Police provided the following review of the affected ordinances or city codes.

To begin with, the definition of “at large” was changed in Surprise City Code 10-19. The code also requires a dog owner to contain their pet within a structure (home), an enclosure (fenced rear yard), or restrain and control the animal (leash) at all times. While away from their premises, the dog owner has the same requirements; however, there continues to be an exemption for a dog park.

Within the same city code, there was also a change for homeowners in gated communities. A previous exception stating dogs were not at large anywhere within a gated community has been deleted. At this time, gated communities are treated the same as any other location within the City of Surprise.

Surprise City Code 10-24 also was modified. The code penalizes all owners who: do not get their dog licensed, counterfeit a dog license, remove a valid license from a dog, or place a license for another animal on their dog which is not valid.

Also, the Surprise Police would like to remind citizens of Surprise City Code 10-26. This code states an owner who wants to continue keeping an animal previously declared vicious by a court must obtain liability insurance, have the animal spayed or neutered, and muzzle the animal when taking it off the owner’s premises.

Other changes were also made to Surprise City Code 10-56. The change states an animal found running around a neighborhood may cause the owner to have to pay food and housing charges, if the owner was negligent in allowing the animal to get out. Proof of negligence is more than just a dog getting out – it would come from the dog getting out multiple times or proof the owner is not taking reasonable steps to keep the animal contained.

Additionally, in regard to Surprise City Code 10-79, the code now requires only one person to file a formal complaint with the police about a barking dog prior to enforcement action being taken.

If you have additional questions in regard to these city ordinances, please contact the Surprise Police Department at 623.222.4000.

For more information or to review current Surprise City Ordinances, visit: http://ow.ly/VlWvV

Economic Development Update

The City’s Economic Development Department continues to be busy with inquiries. This past October, they had inquiries from 3 large businesses, 1 small business and 2 for the AZ TechCelerator. There were 2 large business site visits, 12 small business assists and 14 AZ TechCelerator tenant requests.

Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital held their ribbon cutting and open house on November 19. The hospital will officially open its doors this month. The $17.5 million rehabilitation hospital with 40 beds is specifically designed for treating devastating head injuries that general hospitals may not be equipped to handle. The hospital brings 140 jobs to Surprise! The hospital recently hired Dr. Raj Singh as its medical director. He is also the medical director for the Barrow Neurosurgical Associates NeuroSpine and Rehab Center and the Rehabilitation Institute of Scottsdale.

Great news! Oregano’s is coming to Surprise! I am thrilled to have this popular eatery available for our residents! More details will be available soon!

Oregano’s coming soon sign

Construction will soon begin on a new Honda dealership in Prasada. The company is in the final permitting stages now.

Pet Club is now open at the corner of Greenway and Cotton in District 3.

General Plan Summit

Surprise City Council and Surprise Planning and Zoning Commissioners hosted the 2015 Annual General plan Summit on December 4 at City Hall. Department Directors presented the City’s progress toward achieving the Surprise General Plan 2035 goals and policies, discussed the Economic Development Strategic Plan, provided an update to the OTS Heritage District and conversed about City Monument Gateways.

John Lenio, with the commercial real estate firm CBRE, served as the guest speaker and provided a private sector point of view to Economic Development.

Eric Fitzer speaks at General plan Summit

City Council approved several amendments to some land-use elements of the Surprise General Plan 2035 at the Special Council Meeting on December 19.

Key changes include replacing the Village Plan requirements from the development process, with a “Character Area” approach, to provide more flexibility in establishing land-use concepts and building forms to create a unified city. Wildlife Corridors remain within the conservation element and the overall General Plan. Open space is designated within the land-use element.

Prior to the council vote, Community Development hosted a 60-day review period allowing for public input on the proposed changes and hundreds of you helped via an online survey. Public Hearings were held before the Planning & Zoning Commission and the City Council.

New Parks in Surprise

The City held a ribbon cutting celebration for our two newest parks, Veramonte Community Park and Surprise Farms Park, on November 14. Veramonte Community Park located at 12741 N. 140th Avenue, features restrooms, a splash pad, a parking lot and other new park amenities. Surprise Farms Park, located at the southeast corner of 175th Avenue and Surprise Farms Loop South, features a playground, splash pad, basketball court, skate park, restrooms and other park amenities.

children at play on slash pad children skating at skate park

1st Annual Veterans Day Parade

The City hosted its first inaugural Veterans Day Parade on Wednesday, November 11. There were approximately 70 parade entries and 4,500 attendees. I was extremely proud to walk alongside Debbie Lee who is an accomplished author, public speaker and political activist who has traveled the nation telling her son, Marc Lee’s, amazing story and advocating for our troops, their families and the families of our fallen soldiers. Marc Lee was killed in action and became the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq in August 2006. Ms. Lee founded America’s Mighty Warriors (AMW). AMW is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that honors troops, the fallen and their families with programs that improve their quality of life, resiliency and recovery.

623strong was honored to host their 1st Annual America’s Mighty Warriors Challenge fundraiser at DreamCatcher Park on Veterans Day. This competition is unlike any other and represents the heart and dedication of what AMW stands for and strives to instill in the community. The female and male winner of this cross fit style competition had the honor of riding with Debbie Lee in the Surprise Veterans Day parade.

Surprise Dial-A-Ride

With demand for the City’s Dial-A-Ride service increasing, the City Council recently voted to fund an increase in the number of weekday trips offered by the service.

These additional funds have increased the weekday trip cap from 140 to 160 one-way trips per day through the close of the fiscal year in June. A request to sustain the increase will be submitted to the City Council during the FY2017 budget process.

This increase comes after the recent announcement that Surprise Dial-A-Ride now offers holiday service, which is capped at 30 one-way trips per day.

Dial-A-Ride’s regular hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays have a cap of 30 one-way trips.

As a reminder, Dial-A-Ride offers advanced reservations. Certified ADA, seniors and others with disabilities can schedule advance reservations up to 14 days prior to the trip. To make an appointment for Dial-A-Ride service, please call 602.266.8723.

All Dial-A-Ride service requirements remain the same and can be viewed at www.surpriseaz.gov/dialaride.

Spring Training

The 14th annual Surprise Spring Training Season will kick off on Wednesday, Mar. 2 at the Surprise Recreation Campus – The Campus of Champions – featuring Surprise’s home teams: the Kansas City Royals – 2015 World Series Champion and Texas Rangers – 2015 American League Western Division Champion.

The box office is now open! Tickets can also be purchased over the phone with Tickets.com at 888.755.2583 or online at www.surprisespringtraining.com. Service charges may apply to online and phone orders.

Individual tickets and season packages are available. Individual game ticket prices range from $8 in the lawn to $30 in the premium lower dugout and include free parking. Four premium games (see schedule below) have been designated with individual ticket pricing ranging from $13-$35.

Ticket packages available include Full Season, Home Team Half Season, and Home Team 7-Packs. All packages include priority seating and VIP Parking. Full Season and Half Season packages include a VIP season ticket reception.

For questions or more information, please check our website at www.surprisespringtraining.com or call 623.222.2222.

2016 Spring Training Schedule
*Schedule subject to change | Premium Games

Mar 2 Texas Rangers vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 3 Texas Rangers vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 4 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 5 Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 6 Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 7 San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 8 Colorado Rockies vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 9 Milwaukee Brewers vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 10 Chicago White Sox vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 11 Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 12 Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 13 Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 14 Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 15 Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 16 Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 17 Milwaukee Brewers vs. Texas Rangers 6:05 p.m.
Mar 18 Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 19 Seattle Mariners vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 20 Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers 1:05pm
Mar 21 Colorado Rockies vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 22 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Kansas City Royals 6:05 p.m.
Mar 23 Chicago Cubs vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 24 Cincinnati Reds vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 25 San Diego Padres vs. Texas Rangers 6:05 p.m.
Mar 26 Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 27 Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Texas Rangers 1:05 p.m.
Mar 28 San Diego Padres vs. Kansas City Royals 1:05 p.m.
Mar 29 San Francisco Giants vs. Kansas City Royals 6:05 p.m.
Mar 30 Kansas City Royals vs. Texas Rangers 12:05 p.m.

Shop Surprise!

Please remember that when you choose to shop in Surprise, you are helping shape our community. The money you spend here, stays here. In fact, local sales tax makes up nearly 40% of the city’s General Fund revenues. This money is used for Surprise Police, Surprise Fire-Medical, street maintenance and our parks!

Shop Surprise

Registration for Youth Sports Programs is open

Registration is open through Jan. 23 for a variety of City of Surprise youth sports programs, including softball, tee-ball and baseball.

The final registration day, Jan. 23, is a special Saturday registration, which will be held from 8-11 a.m. at the Community and Recreation Services office, located at 15960 N. Bullard Ave. Normal office hours are Monday – Friday, 8a.m. to 5p.m. Registration can also be completed online at www.surpriseaz.gov/recreation.

The following sports are open for registration:

Babe Ruth Girls Softball League (Girls, 7–16 years old) – Teaches the game of softball in the spirit of sportsmanship, fun and wholesome competition. An emphasis is placed on the development of skills and the value of teamwork.

12U, 14U & 16U participants will undergo a skills evaluation to be drafted to a team. The skills evaluation will be held Saturday, Feb. 27. Age is determined on or before December 31, 2016.

Cal Ripken Youth Tee-ball – NEW 4-5 year old division! (Boys and Girls, 4 – 6 years old) – The road to the “Big Leagues” starts here! The Cal Ripken tee-ball program will offer separate 4-5 year old and 5-6 year old divisions. Participants will have the opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals and skills associated with the game of baseball in an atmosphere where participation and fun are top priority. Age is determined on or before April 30, 2016.

Cal Ripken Baseball League (Boys and Girls, 7-12 years old) – This league will concentrate highly on instruction and will emphasize the development of fundamental skills over wins and losses. Participants registered in the Major (10-12) American League 46/60 or National League 50/70 division will undergo a skills evaluation and will be drafted to a team. The skills evaluation will be held Saturday, Feb. 27. Age is determined on or before April 30, 2016.

The City of Surprise welcomes you to volunteer for the upcoming Spring Sports Season. The Community and Recreation Services Department is dedicated to providing our volunteers the information and confidence they need to have a fun and successful season. If you are interested, please complete a volunteer application at the Community and Recreation Services Office.

For registration or program fee information, please contact the Sports Division at 623.222.2000 or visit www.surpriseaz.gov/recreation.

Opinion Piece

Being a school administrator and working in education for the last few decades, I’ve personally witnessed the effect that social media has had on students. Students have more information at their fingertips now than ever before. Think about this – According to Pew Research Center, 73% of wired American teens (ages 12-17) utilize social networking sites! While the ease of mobile social media can be utilized as an educational tool and assist with our youth’s studies, it is also damaging. It has been used as a haven for bullying and utilized for schools, specifically colleges, as a source for viewing applicants’ online profiles.

Social media is also distracting! According to CommonSense Media, a nonprofit group that studies children’s use of technology, 69% of American high schools have banned use or even possession of mobile devices on school grounds.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the danger of social media as well. Schools and parents need to continue to monitor, to the best of our abilities, the social networking sites of our youth not only because it distracts them for their schoolwork but to also keep them safe!

In closing, I wish you and your families a wonderful, safe, happy, healthy new year!

My best,

Councilman John Williams
District 3