City Council Work Session
Capital Scholars Program Presentation
Capital Scholars is a collaborative program with students from Arizona Charter Academy and Imagine Prep in Surprise. The goal of the program is to introduce students to the municipal and legislative process in Arizona. For 2015, the students met with City of Surprise representatives from the Police, Community and Recreation Services and Fire Departments with hopes that they can create “bills” that will impact their own neighborhoods.
During the City Council Work Session on Tuesday evening, the Scholars presented their ideas which included: Doughnuts with Police, the City of Surprise Traveling Library, Local Building for Recreational Art Use, Recreation in Surprise, CCC (Continuous Chest Compression) Across Dysart Schools, and Fire Service Education Betterment.
The Capital Scholars Program began as the brainchild of Representative Rick Gray in 2014. I congratulate the students on their success, and I thank them for their diligent work putting together their respective proposals.
General Plan Elements Update
City staff is currently updating key elements of General Plan 2035 which takes into consideration land use, economic development, roadway systems, housing, growth areas, recreation and open spaces. On September 9, staff hosted a Stakeholder Meeting and Community Open House to review the land use element of the General Plan. Currently, the City’s incorporated land area is approximately 108 square miles. In contrast, the City’s planning area is 302 square miles which includes the current incorporated and unincorporated areas. With such a large planning area in relation to the City’s current municipal limits, Surprise is a community that is poised for future growth. Defining where and how this growth will appear is imperative to maintaining a sustainable community and character which is distinct to Surprise.
The Land Use Element provides the critical foundation we need to guide us. It utilizes a sustainable approach that balances development and conservation within the Surprise planning area to ensure that infrastructure is maximized and adequate distribution of services, employment, open space and recreation are provided in proximity to where people live. Staff provided a general overview of the existing community form and land ownership composition and provided details regarding the proposed character area approach and associated strategies that form the vision for future land use within Surprise.
The Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the Land Use Element at their meeting on September 17. The start of the 60–day review period as required by Arizona law, begins on September 18. The draft Land Use Element documents can be found at www.surpriseaz.gov/GPupdate. The City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission will host a General Plan Summit meeting on December 4 to discuss the General Plan Amendment and a focus will be placed on Economic Development.
City Council Meeting
Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Status Report
Early results are in for the fiscal year 2015, which ended on June 30, and the General Fund is outperforming estimates set during the recently completed budget process. General Fund resources are up 1.8% or $1.7 million over the estimates, fueled in large part by better than expected local sales tax collections. Meanwhile, expenses in the General Fund are below estimates by 2.9% or $2.7 million. The combination of the two results in a positive increase of $4.4 million in the General Fund.
During the budget process, the need for facility, vehicle, and equipment maintenance and replacement was discussed and set as a high priority. On October 6, the City Council will discuss action to increase funding in these areas using a portion of fiscal year 2015 gains. City Manager Bob Wingenroth and our Finance team have done a fantastic job. Thank you!
Events & Meetings
Rotary Club of Surprise Induction
On Thursday, September 10, I was inducted into the Rotary Club of Surprise. I was honored to be invited to become a member of this selfless service organization, and I look forward to sharing my passion of helping with others with my Rotarian peers.
Desert Streams Lutheran Church of Surprise Groundbreaking
Vice Mayor John Williams and I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Desert Streams Lutheran Church in Surprise on Saturday, September 12. The church started services at Rosefield Charter School, but will soon expand to a new church at the northwest corner of Reems and Hearn. Congratulations on your expansion!
Surprise Farms II Block Party
Surprise Farms II hosted a block party on Saturday, September 12. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the residents of District 1!
Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission Meeting
The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission met on Monday, September 14 at City Hall. Amongst several items on the agenda, the Commission discussed the establishment of a display plan for art on the City Hall campus. Nicole Lance, Deputy City Manager and staff liaison to the Commission, will be working with the building’s architect for input on the plan.
The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission is responsible for ensuring public art policies and procedures are drafted and reviewed for ultimate recommendation to the City Council. Staff is currently exploring options for completing this task and will most likely utilize an outside firm to help establish the policies to determine the best next steps forward.
Dysart Unified School District’s Constitution Day Veterans Panel
Several Surprise Veterans, including me, were invited to take part on a Veteran’s panel at Willow Canyon High School as part of Dysart Unified School District’s Constitution Day events. The entire morning was spent talking to combined social study classes regarding our respective military experiences and how they directly relate to the Constitution.
A special thank you to Willow Canyon Principal Dr. Jayne Wieferich, and Assistant Principals Cheryl Pete and John Williams for hosting this memorable event!
Mark Your Calendar
Special Work Session Meeting
City Council will hold a Special Work Session on Tuesday, September 22 at City Hall to discuss the city’s sign code policy. The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. in the Council Chambers.
City staff is in the process of amending the City of Surprise Sign Code and at this work session is looking for general policy guidance from the Council. The main question to be answered will be what is the vision for signage in the City of Surprise, is it to the extreme of regulating signage vigorously or is it more of a laissez faire approach, or a combination where the city should be thinking about regulating some signage more than other signage.
Second Sundays Fall Series Returns
Second Sundays in the Park concert series, presented by Surprise Toyota, is returning! This free family event will take place in the center of the Surprise Community Park located at 15953 N. Bullard Avenue. The first fall performance is Sunday, October 11, and the Silverkats Live will perform 70’s and 80’s cover tunes. We hope to see you there!
Did You Know?
In preparation for the 115th Avenue and Union Hills drainage improvement project, APS is relocating some of their infrastructure located within the intersection of 115th Avenue and Union Hills Drive. The following traffic restrictions are in place as follows:
Beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, September 18 through 6 a.m. on Monday, September 21
- 115th Avenue north and southbound lanes will be closed from Beardsley Road to Union Hills Drive.
- 115th Avenue northbound lanes will be closed north of the Avenue of the Arts.
For the most current information on traffic restrictions, visit the traffic restrictions webpage at http://ow.ly/RKXZJ.
Bullard Avenue Task Force Meeting
The Bullard Avenue Task Force comprised of volunteer residents, school officials and a business representative have been tasked with studying workable solutions, while maintaining safety along Bullard Avenue, from Greenway to Peoria. They will be presented with current traffic data and asked to consider the options heard from the public. This group may identify additional options during the course of conversation.
The public is invited to attend this meeting on Thursday, September 24 at 6 p.m. in the Community Room of City Hall.
If you have questions, please contact Public Works Director Mike Gent at 623.222.6223.
Fall Events for Teens
The City is excited to offer teens a full lineup of things to do this fall. Some of the events include a dodgeball tournament, a teen night, a haunted maze and much more. For more information, please be sure to follow Surprise Teen Programs on Facebook at www.facebook.com/surpriseteenprograms or you can always contact our Community and Recreation Services Department at 623.222.2000.