ST. GEORGE — Mayor Jon Pike offered highlights from 2015 and goals for 2016 in his third State of the City address at a luncheon hosted by the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
The theme of this year’s address was “More Happening Ahead,” reflecting a branding campaign by the City of St. George to identify it as a place where activity is always afoot, Pike said. It also aims to bring city staff, government and residents together in common for the city’s future.
“Within the ‘More Happening Ahead’ name, you sense the fact there is activity, Assistant to the City Manager Marc Mortensen said. “We are a city of activity. The events we put forward, as well as what we’re trying to do economically, road construction projects – there’s always something going on in St. George.”
Happenings slated for 2016 are part of an overall five-year action plan that reflects the city’s mission, vision and values – all outlined in a 30-page booklet distributed at the luncheon. (View the booklet under resources at the end of this report.)
“We now have what I think is a clear and concise mission,” Pike said, showing the chamber the booklet and reading the mission and vision statements. “We provide services that focus on people and advance a thriving community. We are an active community, rich in culture, with a diverse and vibrant economy that supports people doing great things.”
“I think it captures what we are all about and want to be about every day,” he said. “We don’t claim to be perfect, but this will help guide us and get us there.”
Highlights of 2015
Pike reviewed projects the city finished in 2015 and others it is close to finishing.
The century-old Electric Theater opened in August 2015 after more than two years of construction and renovation that cost around $4 million. The Electric Center, along with two adjacent buildings that were merged into a single complex, now provides a hub for visual and performance arts in the downtown area.
“It’s quite a complex,” Pike said
The historic Seegmiller Farm was completed in the Little Valley Area; the city’s recreation center on 400 East was remodeled; the Little Valley Pickleball Complex was expanded; and work continued on the All Abilities Park and Playground in the Tonaquint area which city officials hope to have finished by April.
Additionally, the city saw the advent of BluCan curbside recycling in conjunction with the county.
In his review, the mayor also displayed numbers for city building permits since 2013.
Permits for single-family dwellings numbered 601, with 576 and 741 issued in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Combined with other new construction, the estimated value of those projects went from $178 million in 2013 to $191 million in 2015.
“I think in the next couple of years,” Pike said, “you’re going to see not only the number of permits but the valuations go much higher.”
The city is experiencing a health economy, the mayor said, adding that St. George has seen population increases of around 3 percent per year for the last few years.
“At 3 percent (it’s) pretty healthy, pretty manageable,” he said.
The city’s five-year action plan anticipates a continuing annual 3 percent population growth and accompanying demand for services.
Happening in 2016
The city’s future plans cover five areas: transportation; public safety; infrastructure; arts, parks and recreation; and economic development. The mayor highlighted some of the major projects and plans the city is moving toward in 2016.
River Road will be widened from 2450 South to Brigham Road. This project will also see a bridge replacement over the Fort Pearce Wash.
The Mall Drive Underpass project is being done in partnership with the Utah Department of Transportation. The underpass will connect East Red Hills Parkway and Red Cliffs Drive in the area of North Mall Drive. This project is part of an overall project to expand Interstate 15 to three lanes between Exits 8 and 10. Work is slated to begin around May and finish by the end of the year.
Possible expansion of service to and from the St. George Regional Airport is underway. If the city is able to acquire funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to help establish a new route, Pike said, a new destination out of the airport could be established to Phoenix, Los Angeles or the Bay Area of California.
The city is undertaking mass transit and active transportation studies. These should help identify how to better serve residents who use the SunTran bus system as well as the city’s trail system for recreation and transportation.
The city will be looking for property to build a new fire station in the Little Valley area. A new fire truck has also been bought for the St. George Fire Department.
The St. George Police Department will receive 35 new police vehicles under a lease with option to buy. The Police Department will also be gaining a new K-9 officer.
This year the city is upgrading to energy-saving LED streetlights that are night-sky friendly and use 75 percent less energy, Pike said.
A new power substation is slated to be built at the Ridge Top Complex. The substation will provide future power to the new campus of the Dixie Applied Technology College. The new DXATC campus will serve as an anchor for a technology park, described below, that the city is planning in that area.
Arts, parks and recreation
The city will continue to work on the All Abilities Park as well as continue to add to the Seegmiller Farm.
Planting of 2,500 trees is planned annually over the next five years.
Work to establish a downtown arts district where local artists and arts organizations can be hosted will continue; the city will push for use of the Electric Theater Center and other arts-related venues. It is hoped this effort will continue to revitalize the city’s downtown.
Renovation of city parks, providing better connectivity throughout the city’s trail system and completing the Cremation Garden at the Tonaquint Cemetery are also slated for the year’s endeavors.
City of St. George has partnerships with Dixie State University, Dixie Applied Technology College and the Washington County School District.
Specifically, Pike mentioned two projects on 100 South related to education: A new housing unit for students is being built on the DSU campus and a new elementary school is being built next to the Dixie Sunbowl that will serve as a replacement for the aging East Elementary School.
“What a great opportunity to keep and bring families to central St. George,” Pike said.
Plans for the Ridge Top Technology Park, where the new DXATC campus is being built, were highlighted. The technology park will cater to tech-based businesses and facilitate training for such businesses via DXATC, DSU and other educators.
“You really could call this E-fficiency,” Pike said.
The goal is to utilize technology in order to implement energy-saving upgrades within the city, electronically monitor the status of permits and licenses, make it easier for residents to pay their utility bills and move to a paperless initiative.
The city’s website will also be upgraded for easier use.
“So, as you can tell,” Pike said to those attending the chamber luncheon, “our theme today is ‘More Happening ahead. I hope you get a feeling that we are energized and we are ready as your city employees and your city government to lead the city going forward. … This is your city, you own it. And I hope you’ll be a part of it moving forward.”
City of St. George five-year action plan:
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.