It has been an exciting year for Surprise, and I believe the future is more promising than ever before! Why? The entire City Council, along with City Manager Bob Wingenroth, has strategically positioned the city for that success. We continue to see our city grow, not just in population, but in economic development projects. Several new businesses have opened, broke ground or announced their desire to be here! With the completion of Loop 303 last year and the construction of the Bell Road bridge, I anticipate Surprise will become more and more attractive for other future businesses.
Several restaurants have or will soon open their doors. Newly opened restaurants include Biscuits Café located off Bell Road near Grand Avenue, Jamba Juice located east of Litchfield Road on Grand Avenue, and Under Review is open next to Uptown Alley at Waddell and Litchfield roads. State 48 Brewery and Oregano’s, both located on Bell Road should be opening soon!
As for District 3, we have three new businesses under construction. Those businesses are Aspen Dental, Surprise Honda and Surprise Hyundai. I look forward to having our new additions soon!
The city also welcomed a new international business in May – IRIS USA. IRIS USA built a 400,000+ square foot building on 30 acres to serve as its North American Headquarters in Surprise’s Southwest Railplex Industrial District. They are employing 100 people. The city is expecting $800,000 in revenue during IRIS’s first year of operation. Additionally, Mainstreet, a $20 million hotel-like medical recovery facility will open their doors this year bringing additional head-of-household jobs to our city.
We are also working hard to grow our downtown at City Center! Earlier this year, City Council voted unanimously to negotiate a formal settlement agreement with Surprise Center Development Company (SCDC). In a May 5 Special Meeting, the Surprise City Council unanimously approved a settlement to end litigation between the city and (SCDC), which owns most of the land around the Civic Center Campus at Litchfield and Bell Roads.
Both parties are pleased to have come to terms on a settlement which achieves a full and final release of claims and believe this solidifies a partnership that will result in the development of a vibrant and engaging city center in Surprise.
The city, in partnership with Gateway Community College broke ground on the future-site of the Surprise-Gateway Training Center, a facility that will provide new, mission critical labs, assembly facilities and classrooms for the city water professionals and individuals interested in water resource management careers. The 13,100 square foot training center is being constructed on the grounds of the South Plant (SPA1) Water Reclamation Facility, located near the intersection of Cactus and Litchfield roads. SPA1 currently processes over 8 million gallons of water per day. Construction of the Center is anticipated for completion this summer and training opportunities should begin as early as this fall!
City Transportation Update
City transportation projects continue to progress this spring and into the summer. For your reference, below is the most updated status for the projects impacting District 3.
- Greenway Road Widening – This project is 85% complete. The first lift of asphalt paving is complete. The final paving cap will be placed following the completion of the landscaping. The landscaping and decorative paver placement is estimated for completion in late May. All of the contractors’ activities are being closely coordinated with the Bell/Grand detour plan in an effort to minimize traffic interruptions. The westbound lanes will be open in June.
- Cactus & Litchfield – Construction on Litchfield Road is complete and the road is open to the public. Cactus Road construction is expected to start at the end of June once APS relocates 69KV power poles.
- Landscape Medians – Construction has begun on Bullard and should be complete by the end of May. Reems Road construction has begun and should be complete by July.
- Peoria Avenue (south half) – Plans are still in final stage of revision. Once plans are approved, bids will be advertised. Construction is expected to begin in late June and should be complete by end of August.
- Cactus from Cotton to 175th – Construction will begin in early June and should be complete by the end of July.
Bell Road Closure Update
Bell Road at Grand Avenue officially closed on April 1 which kicked-off Phase 3 of the project which is expected to conclude in spring 2017. Bell Road is scheduled to re-open in November 2016 prior to the holiday shopping season. Access to businesses next to the project area will be maintained throughout the project.
The main detour from Bell Road is southbound Dysart Road, to Greenway Road, and north again on Litchfield Road to re-access Bell Road. Our transportation team tells me this is the quickest and most efficient way around the Bell closure at Grand. Driving through the nearby neighborhoods will not save you time.
There has been an abundance of activity and progress since the closure. For continued updates or questions, please contact ADOT’s project hotline at 855.712.8530 (Press option one), or email at email@example.com.
The city, Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce, and local businesses have partnered to give you even more reasons to ShopSurprise during the Bell Road full closure. The Bell & Grand ShopSurprise campaign is helping to promote businesses in the Bell Road construction area by offering daily deals for shoppers so they continue to spend money in their hometown.
Businesses on all sides of the Bell Road and Grand Avenue intersection are open and have created incentives so that you ShopSurprise!
Already daily deals have included food specials, discounted prices and a flat-screen TV giveaway! What are you waiting for? There are multiple ways for you to participate; just pick the one, or two, that are right for you:
- Visit shopsurpriseaz.com to view the daily deals online;
- Text ‘ShopSurprise’ (one word) to 40518 to have daily deals sent directly to your phone;
- Like the Shop Surprise, Arizona Facebook page and have the deals appear in your timeline; or
- Follow @ShopSurpriseAZ on Twitter to have deals tweeted to you daily.
Surprise Youth Council (SYC)
Eight members of the City of Surprise Youth Council attended a week long immersive civic education program in Washington, D.C. (March 13-18) with over 250 other students from across the U.S. The program is done in partnership with Close Up. Close up has a successful 45 year history leading thousands of students from across the nation each year by turning the nation’s capital into a living classroom. Our youth council members discussed current controversial public policy issues (border security/citizenship, criminal sentencing guidelines, related services to pregnant & parenting students, teen voter registration, gun violence in schools, youth obesity, bullying) with peers that have differing viewpoints from their own, learned to gather information from a variety of sources to make informed decisions, and participated in a mock congressional session. The students visited numerous monuments and memorials and talked about how the people and events represented impact their lives today. The program has been proven to positively impact student achievement in standardized testing and encourages long term involvement in activities such as voting, media consumption, and informed political participation.
The timing of the trip could not have been better as we find ourselves in a very contentious presidential election. In addition, students were right in the middle of the action when President Obama named his Supreme Court nominee as reporters swarmed around the Supreme Court building while we were there. Another highlight of the trip was the opportunity to visit with various congressional leaders from Arizona including Senator Jeff Flake, Congressman Ruben Gallego & Congressman Trent Franks. It was an honor for me to join our youth council members for this special Day on the Hill.
The Surprise Youth Council (SYC) has launched an awareness campaign “Be Yourself. Find Your Crowd. Get Along.” for teens to help spread the message that everyone belongs. The campaign promotes the idea of finding your crowd and encourages students to break out of their comfort zones and expand their horizons when it comes to making friends.
The students are taking their message to local high schools with posters and a video that illustrate the slogan, as well as on-campus activities that encourage teens to live out the campaign concept – such as pledging their support.
The campaign message is also creatively displayed in the community. In February, the youth council spray painted a mural themed after the slogan onto a wall near Surprise Stadium. They worked with local muralist Hugo Medina to design the vibrantly-colored public art piece, which depicts human forms participating in diverse activities – activities that represent the “Be Yourself” concept.
The council plans to measure the results of the campaign through a student survey that was distributed before the campaign launched and that will be retaken after its conclusion.
Follow Surprise Teen Programs on Facebook and Twitter for more information and engagement opportunities throughout the campaign. To learn more about the Surprise Youth Council, visit www.surpriseaz.gov/syc.
Surprise Literacy Challenge
Thirteen schools and 124 classrooms from across Surprise accepted the Surprise Literacy Challenge, a five-month reading challenge last fall. The Challenge, created by Councilman Skip Hall and me, asked students in 4th-6th grade to track the number of hours they read outside the classroom over a three month period. Teachers then reported those numbers back to the city.
The winners in each grade were as follows:
Ms. Gore’s class – Arizona Charter Academy
Ms. Frazier’s class – West Point Elementary
Ms. Daniel’s class – Paradise Education Center
The winning 4th and 5th grade classrooms were treated to a pizza party and also received a trophy for their room and individual medals for each student at a City Council meeting in April. The winning 6th grade class accepted their accolades on the field at the Spring Training game on March 25 at Surprise Stadium.
Swim & Dive Teams
The City of Surprise is offering registration for two recreational Swim and Dive Team programs for youth ages 5 to 17. The Swim and Dive Team program is designed to improve and develop swimming strokes and techniques while offering a fun competitive environment. You can register for either morning or afternoon practice sessions; new participants will be required to try out prior to registration.
Drop-in tryouts for new members are being held Monday – Thursday, 4-8 p.m., through May 27 at the Surprise Aquatic Center, located at 15831 N Bullard Ave. Swimmers will be required to swim 25 yards freestyle and backstroke and must demonstrate all four competitive strokes during their tryout. Divers must be able to tread water and demonstrate strong swimming abilities within diving well area.
Individual registration fees for swimmers and divers are $80 for Surprise residents and $110 for non-residents. Swim and Dive Team meets will be held at the Surprise Aquatic Center and various Peoria pools.
The City of Surprise is hosting a “SCHOOL’S OUT! 3-on-3 Youth Basketball Tournament” on May 13 and 14.
Team registration is available for the following youth divisions: 10-12 years old, 13-14 years old and 15-17 years old. Registration forms are available at the Community and Recreation Services office, located at 15960 N Bullard Ave.
Team registrations may be submitted by mail or in person to the Community and Recreation Services office, along with a tournament fee of $60 per team of three.
Tournament brackets will be available Thursday, May 12 at 5 p.m. Games will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. on Saturday. Tournament play will take place at the Countryside Recreation Center, located at 15038 N Parkview Place.
For more information on this tournament or additional City of Surprise competitive youth sport league opportunities, please contact Ian Wallace at 623.222.2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
And there is much more! Please visit http://www.surpriseaz.gov/17/Community-Recreation-Services for a list of events.
The Council had a detailed discussion on the upcoming budget and how to strategically plan for the ongoing growth of our community. To support our strengths we need to continue to emphasize public safety. Earlier this spring, Public Safety presented to council our anticipated gaps and needs in both Police and Fire. To bring these departments up to standard, staying on top of calls for service and crime mitigation, we will need to infuse $2.4 Million this coming fiscal year. This is a heavy load on our current budget, but with some fine tuning we were able to meet these needs in addition to over $4 million being pumped into pavement preservation.
So the real question is, what is “fine tuning?” The council was able to eliminate a contingency fund which opened $1 million, as well as $500,000 in savings from planned personnel savings. This left a gap of $900,000 thousand. As a result, for the first time in nearly a decade residents will see a modest increase in the local property tax (should the council formally adopt its proposed property tax rate on June 21). What does this mean in real dollars? If your home is worth $200,000 you will see an increase of $13.00 annually. If your home is worth $400,000 you will see a total increase of $26.00 annually. There will be no change to sales tax, and our food tax will remain at zero. We felt as a majority that this modest increase, $1-$2/monthly for most residents, will be well invested in a tremendous boost to public safety. For more detailed information on the recommended budget, click here.
We next need to consider going to bond for public safety, transportation and recreation infrastructure. Our facilities have not been able to keep up with the growth we’ve sustained. Many of us purchased homes with a promise of what’s to come, and while we’ve grown leaps and bounds, we continue to strive to meet the needs of families and live up to the mantra of live, work, and play in Surprise. On June 21, City Council will vote on whether or not to recommend a $60 million bond package for the November 2016 ballot. I look forward to the discussion and encourage you to get involved. You can attend several Surprise Forward bond meetings in May to learn more. Get meeting dates, a list of potential projects and bond information at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseforward. Please stay tuned, and send me your feedback!!
Councilman John Williams