The City has really been moving and shaking this quarter! It’s hard to believe we are approaching summer already. With all the activity, I wanted to update you on a few things.
In my last edition, I briefly mentioned the Educational Opportunities Stakeholders Group now known as Impact Ed. As the key component to economic development and our State’s future, leaders need collaborate and formulate creative and innovative ways to improve education locally and regionally. Councilman Jim Biundo and I are diligently working to form this stakeholders group to improve Arizona’s education system. We have invited other elected officials, business leaders, public safety officials, school administrators and developers to join Impact Ed.
My goal is to meet on a monthly basis and explore ways in which we can retain talented teachers and support vital programs so that our children get the very best education possible. It is my ultimate goal to form solutions with Impact Ed that can be relayed to our State legislators as they enter the 2016 legislative session. If you are interested in participating, please feel free to contact me. I welcome the opportunity to explore our educational concerns and help build a stronger system together!
During the 2015 National League of Cities Conference in Washington DC, I attended a dynamic and interactive workshop on community engagement. This particular workshop provided incredible detail and reaffirmed much of what we are already doing in the City of Surprise; however, there were also some new and innovative strategies discussed. Keys to engaging citizenry, roadblocks that limit citizen engagement and tips for improvement were shared.
Upon my return from the trip, I met with staff and formed a Community Engagement Work Group that will be led by City Clerk Sherry Aguilar and staff representing each department. Since the initial meeting, the City has hosted several voter registration events, and the formation of Neighborhood Association Committees (NAC) will be discussed at an upcoming Committee on Community Outreach Partnership & Grants meeting later this month.
Neighborhood associations help identify challenges and concerns, support change and improvement efforts, help resolve conflicts, provide volunteers for community initiatives, represent the neighborhood as a whole to elected officials and find resources to make their respective neighborhoods a better place to live. In summary, a neighborhood association is a group of neighbors and business owners who voluntarily work together for changes and improvements such as neighborhood safety, beautification and social activities. They help reinforce rules and regulations through education, peer pressure and simply looking out for each other.
Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee
The Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee met several times this past quarter to review the benefits of funding 11 capital improvement projects through possible General Obligation bonds; welcome public input; identify appropriate communication methods for educating residents and voters; and provide City Council with a written report of their findings this month. City Council will consider its position relative to a bond ballot initiative in June.
The 17-member committee includes members of the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Community and Recreation Advisory Commission, with two members from the Dysart Unified School District, one Nadaburg School District delegate and a member of the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce to serve as the chair.
Specific projects were included in three categories that were evaluated by City staff. Widening of portions of Greenway, Litchfield and Happy Valley roads, a new fire station, police property and evidence facility, court accessibility and safety items, a regional multi-generational recreation center, aquatic center, and 8 Acre Park improvements are currently on the list.
Surprise Youth Update
The City of Surprise Teen Summit was held on April 23rd in the City Hall Complex. The purpose of the summit, now in its 8th year, is to provide a venue where teens can get excited about making positive changes in their community, their schools and in their lives. 160 high school students from Surprise were in attendance including public, charter and homeschooled teens. The summit coordinated by Marla Babb, Recreation Manager, and staff from the City’s Community and Recreation Services department, included breakout sessions on funding your college education, team building, and safe driving habits. The keynote speaker for the event was Mona Dixon, former Boys & Girls Club of America Youth of the year, who went from living on the streets and in homeless shelters to graduating college. She delivered a strong message to take control and make things happen for yourself.
The Surprise Youth Council (SYC) has been busy the past month helping at events and providing feedback on city related plans and initiatives. Members of the SYC led activities at the Teen Summit and volunteered at the WHAM Recycle Arts & Youth Festival. City Planning staff presented the City’s Art Master Plan, Heritage District Overly Plan & City’s General Plan to the teens to get their input and educate them about what’s planned for their community. SYC members are also reviewing the City’s potential Capital Improvement Projects in preparation for providing their feedback at an upcoming City Council meeting. Maricopa County Library System also presented their teen programs to the SYC in an effort to increase participation and recruit potential volunteers. The SYC is also looking to partner with the Surprise regional library on a Teen Techs program to help older residents understand and better use all of the features on their phones, computers, tablets and other technology. The SYC is comprised of twenty-five 6th – 11th grade students representing 14 different middle & high schools in the Surprise area.
Surprise Competitive Sports
Competitive Sports was added to the FY14-15 budget. The inaugural offerings for competitive volleyball and basketball did not come to fruition due to lack of interest; however, competitive soccer registered a total of 8 teams, (4 teams in 10u boys and 4 teams in 12u girls) when the season kicked off in mid-March. The regular season concluded on Saturday, May 2nd and the single elimination league tournament will start on May 5th.
The initial response from players, coaches, parents, and spectators has been overwhelmingly positive. We have had several players, coaches and parents express their gratitude to the City for “finally offering a competitive league”.
Upcoming Registration Dates:
Competitive Youth Basketball – Separate boys & girls, 10u, 12u, and 14u competitive youth basketball divisions will be offered. Registration begins July 6th. Games begin on August 17th.
Competitive Youth Volleyball – Girls 10u, 12u, and 14u divisions will be offered. Registration begins July 6th. Games will begin on August 17th.
Competitive Girls Fastpitch Softball – Girls 10u, 12u, and 14u divisions will be offered. Registration begins August 17th. Games will begin on September 21st.
Competitive Baseball – 10u, 11u, and 12u divisions will be offered. Registration begins August 17th. Games will begin on September 21st.
Competitive Youth Soccer – Separate boys & girls 10u, 12u, and 14u competitive youth soccer divisions will be offered. Registration begins September 8th. Games will begin on November 2nd.