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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Councilman John Williams