Bell Road/Grand Avenue Update
ADOT’s investigation of the accident that occurred on June 9 remains ongoing. Worksite safety is the agency’s priority as the contractor, consulting engineers and ADOT continue to review the incident. While a date for resuming the installation of the girders as part of the Bell Road overpass construction hasn’t been set, crews are continuing other work to keep the project on track.
Most recent activities include:
- Paving the new westbound roadway on the east side of Grand Avenue from south of Bell Grande to Towne Center.
- Installing a 12-inch waterline on Bell Road west of Grand Avenue.
- Paving the new 134th Avenue roadway. Traffic to use the new 134th Avenue within the next couple weeks.
- Installing a new waterline on Bell Road east of 134th Drive.
- Traffic signal at Bell Road and 134th Drive will be removed. Stop signs will be in place.
**City, County, and State law enforcement will be patrolling the area. Please obey all traffic signage and posted speed limits.**
The summer issue of Progress magazine, scheduled to be mailed out on June 29, will include updated information about the next phase of the project and will also have an updated business access map.
As always, please allow plenty of time and observe all traffic control signs and barricades. Thank you again for your patience during this project. For more information, please visit the project website at www.azdot.gov/bellandgrand or you can contact ADOT’s project hotline at 855.712.8530, press option #1.
City Council Work Session
Public Art Program
On June 27, 2002, City Council established the Surprise Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission to advise on appropriate selections of public art for City buildings, parks and other public spaces. The Commission was also provided with a budget comprised of a one percent set aside from capital improvement program funds for public buildings, improvements to public buildings, open spaces and street construction (excluding utility projects).
During budget preparation for FY2010, a need was recognized to increase available operating revenues in the general fund. On February 26, 2009, the Mayor and City Council were presented with a recommendation to suspend the arts set aside and reallocate the remaining funds. The Mayor and City Council formalized this action with resolution number 09-29.
Recently, City Council expressed a desire to revisit the potential of restoring funding for the city’s public art program. In response to City Council’s request, City Manager Bob Wingenroth facilitated a discussion regarding the history of public art funding in the city, the potential of adopting the Public Art Program ordinance and exploring additional funding options such as the Art in Private Development which requires large, private retail and office developments to commission artwork on their property or support local cultural programs.
The purpose of the public art funding program is to allow one and one-third percent of applicable City capital project funds to go to a dedicated Municipal Art Fund for commissioning and maintaining the City’s public art program effective July 1, 2017, if approved. Eligible funds would include capital funds such as bonds, operating funds, general funds and enterprise funds. Eligible city projects would include new capital projects in excess of $500,000 such as buildings, roads, infrastructure and parks. It would exclude emergency work, minor alterations, etc.
The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission, through the City Manager, would administer the Public Art Program and all the projects in conjunction with the City Council.
Status of Colorado River and Central Arizona Project (CAP)
The Colorado River system has experienced drought conditions for nearly 16 years, resulting in the water level of Lake Mead to continue to be at historical lows. Water levels in Lake Mead determine how much Colorado River water Arizona receives on an annual basis. A large portion of Surprise’s renewable water supply is from the Colorado River and delivered by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) system. The Colorado River supply is of the upmost importance, and it has a direct impact on the City’s water portfolio and future.
Last night, Terry Lowe, Water Resources Management Director for the City provided Council an update on the state of the Colorado River System, including Lake Mead and CAP. He addressed the potential for future Colorado River shortages, programs the State and others are working on to keep the water levels in Lake Mead above shortage triggers, and the impacts shortages will have on Surprise. There is a small chance a water shortage could be declared in 2017, with greater likelihood one could occur in 2018. Shortages on the River will not affect Surprise’s water supply, but they will have direct effect on the cost to deliver river water to Surprise. When shortages are declared, CAP water delivery rates will increase. Mr. Lowe also informed Council of the recent adoption by the CAP board’s election to increase the Capital rates. The Capital charges the City pays go directly to repaying the loan Arizona took out from the Federal Government to construct the CAP. This expense is made whether or not the City is delivered water. For 2017, the Capital rate will increase by 35%, with an additional 58% increase anticipated for 2018.
Special City Council Meeting
The Surprise City Council approved a $271.9 million Fiscal Year 2017 budget during a Special City Council meeting on Tuesday night.
Council approved a formula to fund 22 new public safety positions by maintaining the city’s property tax rate of $0.7591 per $100 of assessed property valuation. The positions are as follows:
Police: 13 | Fire-Medical: 7 | Court: 1 | City Attorney: 1
This budget also dedicates $53 million for capital improvements to preserve and/or replace aging infrastructure, such as increasing funding for the Pavement Preservation Program to $4.5 million.
Investments in communications, facility, information technology, recreation and utility infrastructure amount to $6.8 million. And $10.5 million will support replacing aging vehicles to enhance service and lower maintenance costs.
Beginning in November, the city will assume responsibility for billing the water, waste water and sanitation utilities. By removing these operations from a third-party vendor, the city will be able to provide more efficient operations and provide an improved customer experience. This service will result in an additional 11 positions. The ongoing utility billing budget of $1.7 million that had been paid to the third-party vendor will remain the same once the city transitions to the billing responsibilities.
The FY17 Budget also provides funding to add Sunday Dial-A-Ride service and continue Saturday and holiday pick-ups. To better match regional costs, all one-way trips within city limits will cost $2 as of July 1. One-way trips outside city limits will cost $4.
Council will vote to set the property tax levy at their August 2 Council Meeting.
City Council Meeting
Liquor License Approvals
Liquor licenses were unanimously approved for Grand Central Eatery, located at 17300 N. Sun Village Parkway; Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, located at 16914 W. Bell Road; and Nick’s Diner II, now located at 13765 N. Litchfield Road.
Surprise Heritage District
The City of Surprise has taken the next step in helping revitalize the Original Town Site (OTS) with Council’s approval on a Surprise Heritage District. One of the primary goals of the Surprise Heritage District (SHD) and overlays zones is flexibility and choice that will put the power back into the hands of the owners in the OTS to revitalize their properties. It also implements the desired character and architecture on new development, ensuring it follows the path laid out by the longstanding community.
The key elements that make up the SHD zoning district are founded in the Revitalization Plan that was adopted in 2002, as well as through 18 months of public outreach with residents. It includes new measures used to protect the residential community and historical character of the neighborhood. Two overlay zones are the components within the SHD used to regulate allowed land uses and developments standards such as setbacks, density, and building heights. The Residential Overlay (SHD-RO) will focus on residential areas within the SHD while the Commercial Overlay (SHD-CO) will be used to facilitate residents and visitors with appropriate consumer-oriented retail and service functions. The boundaries between these overlays follow the general development pattern of the existing residential and commercial properties.
The selected overlay zones are not mandatory. Property owners who find it necessary to retain the zoning that is currently on the property are allowed to opt-out of the overlay zones. The comprehensive design standards and requirements for new development within the SHD component of this rezoning will apply to all properties within the OTS.
By opting-out of the overlay zone, the new Land Use Matrix and development standards (reduced building setbacks, increased maximum lot coverage, etc.) will not be associated with the property. The other sections of the Surprise Unified Development Code will regulate the allowed uses and development standards.
General Obligation Bond
City Council approved sending a $63 million General Obligation Bond initiative to the voters in November 2016, at their Regular Meeting Tuesday night.
Following public input and weighing community needs, Council approved the following nine projects, that if voter-approved, would be included in the bond:
- Two fire stations
- Police evidence storage facility
- Land purchase for a future southwest Surprise Fire Station/Police Substation/Park
- Public Works maintenance facility (frees up existing city locations to meet Police and Fire-Medical storage needs)
- Road improvements to portions of Greenway and Litchfield Roads
- Aquatic Center Expansion
- Land purchase for regional rec complex (sport fields, playgrounds, future rec center)
General Obligation Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest. The repayment comes from a secondary property tax, which Surprise does not currently have. If approved, the secondary property tax could be up to $0.50 per $100 of limited property value, which on a home with an assessed value of $200,000 would be a yearly maximum increase of $100, or $8.33 per month.
Additional educational public meetings will be scheduled ahead of the November 8 General Election. Meeting dates and locations will be posted at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseforward. You may also visit the website for a complete list of projects, renderings, financial impact information and public survey results.
Events & Meetings
Aqua-Tots Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting
The grand opening and ribbon cutting for Aqua-Tots Surprise was held on Wednesday, June 15. Aqua-Tots is a new swimming school and business in the Shops at Surprise retail development at 13833 W. Bell Road, Suite 104, just off of Litchfield and Bell roads. Aqua-Tots has committed to providing the highest quality swimming instruction and water safety training in the absolute best swim environment to the children and families in Surprise and surrounding areas.
We are excited to have them in Surprise!
Valley Metro RPTA Monthly Meeting
I attended the Valley Metro RPTA monthly meeting on Thursday, June 16.
Mark Your Calendar
Dignity Health Emergency Room Set To Open
Dignity Health is hosting an open house on Saturday, June 25 from 9 am until 11 am at their new facility located at 14267 W. Bell Road. Please feel free to bring your family by to enjoy the activities Dignity has planned!
City of Surprise 33rd Annual 4th of July Celebration
The City of Surprise welcomes you to celebrate the 4th of July at the Surprise Recreation Campus-Surprise Stadium at 15960 N. Bullard Avenue on Monday, July 4th. The event will kick off with a Rookie League baseball game featuring the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. Throughout the game, families can enjoy in-game contests, music, and family giveaways leading up to a firework spectacular! Parking and admission are free with a canned food donation benefiting the St. Mary’s Food Bank. Gates will open at 4:30pm and the game will begin at 5:30pm. Concessions will be available for purchase. The stadium food and beverage policy will be in effect. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at approximately 8:30pm.
For additional event information, please contact the Community and Recreation Services office at 623-222-2000 or visit www.surpriseaz.gov/specialevents.
Did You Know?
Voters will have until 5 pm on Monday, August 1 to register to vote in the primary. Early voting begins Wednesday, August 3.
The deadline to register to vote in the general election is 5 pm on Monday, October 10. Early voting begins Wednesday, October 12. The general election will take place on Tuesday, November 8.
City Council Recess – July
City Council will be on recess for the month of July. Please note that you will not receive a newsletter until Thursday, August 4. Thank you!