ST. GEORGE — Despite technical difficulties preventing members from the Stage Door Theater Company kicking off the State of the City address Wednesday with a musical number from “Mamma Mia,” Mayor Jon Pike told a packed audience on the campus of Dixie State University that St. George is in great shape for the coming year.
“I want you to all know that the state of our city is vibrant, strong and our future is bright,” Pike said.
Elected in 2007 to the City Council and as mayor in 2013, Pike has served on numerous boards including as a trustee on the Dixie State University board, Washington County Water Conservancy District and St. George Area Economic Development, and he is the former president of Utah League of Cities and Towns.
This is Pike’s sixth State of the City address.
“The city’s mission is to provide services that focus on people,” Pike said. “That is our goal.”
With so much going on in 2019, Pike was unable to cover everything, but he touched on the high points that demonstrate the economic strength St. George has enjoyed.
“When it comes to budget … we are nearly at what the state allows us to save for a rainy day,” Pike said. “We also have other savings accounts that help us with capital projects, one time projects. It’s a great position to be in.”
Pike acknowledged the efforts of City Manager Adam Lenhard, who will soon celebrate two years with the city.
“Adam has infused us with optimism, a great capacity, and intellect and with leadership,” Pike said.
Along with a shoutout to other departments, including the St. George Police and Fire Departments, Pike discussed where the city is and where it is going. He said the local housing economy is still going strong.
“It’s going to slow down, but it really doesn’t,” Pike said. “It’s close to 1,000 new building permits for single-family homes for the last three years.”
Condos, townhomes and apartment rentals have also risen, signaling a rise in student growth in area schools, which is a prime economic driver.
“What is interesting is commercial (growth) is significant as well,” Pike said. “Three years in a row there has been a lot of activity in new development.”
Along with mixed-use development projects such as Joule Plaza and Commerce Pointe where residents can live, work and dine, Pike acknowledged a renaissance of activity throughout the city.
“I am not sure who coined it, but we like it,” Pike said. “We call it ‘pioneer chic,’ and it is.”
It is a j0y, Pike added, to tap into St. George’s history when considering current and future development.
Along with the economic development spreading across the city, there is also the nod to host the upcoming Ironman World Championship 70.3 in September 2021, which will infuse more than $25 million into the local economy.
“This is an incredible thing,” Pike said. “When you look at the number of athletes (7,000 athletes and 25,000 spectators) … should we do it? I think we should. We’re going to make hay while the sun shines with this.”
One of the biggest announcements during the State of the City address was a no-charge window to take mass transportation on SunTran beginning March 1 and continuing through May.
The mayor said he wants citizens to give mass transportation a try. Pike issued the audience a challenge to ride SunTran and see if it can make a difference in their life.
“We are not taking our eye off the ball when it comes to infrastructure, especially when it comes to transportation,” Pike said. “We need to expand SunTran. We will be hiring a (driver) this spring going through Washington. … It will help many people and help get cars off the road. Let us know what you want us to do. Currently, we probably serve half of our geography just in St. George. We accept the challenge. Go take a ride on the bus. ”
Infrastructure is also on Pike’s agenda for 2020.
The roads will be widened on 3000 East to become a multi-lane road. Some of the road work is complete, with the remainder to be finished over the next three years.
Health care was also touched upon during the State of the City address.
Provo-based Revere Heath Family Medicine is currently in the process of building 68,000 square feet of urgent care, orthopedics, family care, cardiology and physical therapy, including imagining MRI, cat scan, mammography, X-ray and ultrasound.
The opening at 736 S. 900 East is scheduled for October.
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