Pike highlights future projects, planning in ‘State of the City’ address

ST. GEORGE – Mayor Jon Pike gave his second State of the City address at the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Wednesday and shared aspects of the city’s plans for the coming year.

“We want some good, healthy, steady growth,” Pike said, echoing sentiments from the recent What’s Up Down South Economic Summit. The city and county has been experiencing steady yet consistent growth for the past three years. He said that type of growth is easier to plan for. It also shows the city has rebounded since the Great Recession.

“I like where we are,” Pike said.

To watch videocast, click play arrow  play-arrow  in center of image at top of this story

Pike reflected on actions implemented in the last year related to transparency and strategic planning.

After taking office, Pike moved regular City Council meetings from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in an effort to get more people to attend. He also implemented an open public comment period held at the first council meeting of each month during which residents can address the council directly.

Last year, the City Council held a strategic planning meeting that ran for approximately 12 hours, Pike said. This year, he said, the planning meeting is being held at the Dixie Center St. George, 1835 Convention Center Drive in St. George, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Feb 12., with a public comment period likely following afterward. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

We’re really building the plan for the next five-to-10 years on the horizon,” Pike said.

Once elements of the strategic planning are brought together, the mayor said, they will be posted to the city’s website for public access and review.

Part of the strategic planning, Pike said, includes the city’s branding as a way to best determine, “Who are we?” and “What are we about?” City officials are currently working with a branding company to accomplish that end.

“We’ll be trying to communicate who we are and what you can expect from us as a part of our branding and a part of our strategic plan,” he said, adding the branding efforts will be seen in coming months over social media.

The mayor also provided a glimpse of the many transportation projects the city is currently working on and will in the near future, which include: widening Indian Hills Drive, providing a connection between Little Valley and the Fort Pierce Industrial Park, and widening the River Road Bridge.

A major transportation project being undertaken by the Utah Department of Transportation is the Bluff Street and Sunset Boulevard Interchange. UDOT originally planned to put a “jug handle” at the intersection that wasn’t received well by area residents and business owners. After reviewing public comments and other factors, UDOT is considering an alternative to the proposed jug handle configuration.

Both the city’s and UDOT’s current and future road projects will be featured at the upcoming Dixie Regional Transportation Expo Feb. 10 at the Dixie Center, Pike said.

Educational growth is also a huge thing for us,” the mayor said, speaking of the Dixie Applied Technology College’s anticipated move to the Ridge Top Complex.

DXATC is currently waiting on funding from the Legislature for a $45 million building project that will house its campus, Pike said.

It is anticipated DXATC will serve as the “anchor tenet” of a 200-plus acre business and technology park city officials have in mind for the hilltop property that housed the old municipal airport.

Continuing on education, Pike touched on the recently approved measure to sell Elk’s Field to the Washington County School District. It will allow the school district to replace the aging East Elementary School on 700 East with a new, two-story school in downtown St. George. In turn, this will eventually allow Dixie State University to purchase the East Elementary property and expand its campus.

“We’re excited, because it separates the issue from the Sunbowl,” Pike said. City officials are looking to use the Dixie Sunbowl on a much more regular basis and also implement repairs and improvements as possible. As a part of this goal, Pike said, a semipro football team called the Zion Lions is already looking at using the Sunbowl for its games.

The team held its first practice at the Sunbowl last Saturday and is scheduling nine games for the springtime, he said.

The Sunbowl is a potential recipient for the city’s portion of the recently passed, countywide Recreation, Arts and Parks tax, or RAP tax. The county projects an annual tax revenue of $2.2 million that will be distributed across the county municipalities based on population and points of sale over the next 10 years.

St. George is slated to get $1.3 million of that revenue, Pike said.

The city will likely use two-thirds of the funds for bonds that will be applied to recreation and park projects. The remaining third will be applied to the arts and arts groups. If tax revenue dips along the way, the remaining third will also provide the city with a way to cover bond payments.

While money from the RAP tax may be applied to projects like the Sunbowl, Electric Theater and All Abilities Park, another way the city helps fund those projects is through the sale of city property, Pike said.

He pointed to the sale of property behind the Dixie Center where construction on an incoming hotel will soon begin.

Where we can, we will trade or sell an asset to gain an asset,” he said. “We will then take that money and apply it into something like an All Abilities Park or an Electric Theater project so it’s not necessarily coming out of the general revenue and it’s not resulting in a tax increase.”

For KCSG and St. George News, Melissa Anderson contributed the videocast attached to this report.

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • Brian February 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I would love for someone in St. George to open up a really good “Maker Space”, like MakeSaltLake.org. It’s like a gym membership for geeks, where you pay $50 or so a month (discounts for students) and get access to their facilities and equipment (3D printers, CNC machines, welding and wood-working equipment, electronics and soldering equipment, etc). They also have classes, fairs, etc put on by the community to teach various skills and introduce concepts and trends. The Python and robotics classes at the college are a good example of this, as is Dixie Tech’s and Code Camp. They hugely benefit the community. DSU and DXATC could partner on it, and/or government could be involved. The money would be needed up front, but I think “if you build it, they will come” certainly applies, and it will be self-sustaining and even profitable after a year or two. The main overhead is facilities, utilities, at least one staff member to be there at any given time, and occasional upgrades, repairs, and additions. This is a massive benefit to the community and community members, furthering education and job viability, and gives tech companies a reason to move here, or start here. Win win win.

    • One for the road February 5, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      Brian. By all means use your own money and do it yourself. It’s easy making plans when it’s somebody else’s money

    • Mesaizacd February 6, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Brian sure does a lot of talking LOL.! all those big ideas he has and all he does is talk. I have to agree with the other poster. Planning is easy as long as it’s somebody else’s money isn’t it. do it yourself if you think it’s so easy

    • Bender February 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      You youngsters can keep your sissy interpreted languages championed by frilly eurodogs named Guido. Bender compiles his code and he does it in FORTRAN 66 on a green screen.

  • Bender February 5, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Maker space? Sounds like some kinda hippy hangout. Pythons? What’s that got to do with anything. You’re getting a bit loopy here son.

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