Joint Council/Planning & Zoning Meeting
City Council Members and Planning & Zoning Commissioners met at Ottawa University on Thursday, November 9 to discuss the vision for downtown Surprise. As a strategic activator for the Civic Center, Ottawa University plays a critical role in the future of the City Center. Ottawa’s Vice President and Provost, Dr. Dennis Tyner, provided a thorough update on the university. Ottawa had a goal of enrolling 250 students in their first semester in Surprise. Dr. Tyner happily reported that 434 students were enrolled which far exceeded their original goal. He stated 55 percent of the students came from Arizona with 38 students from Surprise; 35 percent of the students are from California. The university recruited locally and invested in athletes to start the inaugural year. They hope to enroll an additional 375 new students this upcoming spring and fall. Staff utilized the Infinity program to attract students who are participants and incentivized those students with scholarships. Ottawa University’s short-term goal is to build three additional buildings which include an indoor/outdoor athletic facility, KDR (kitchen, dining, recreation area) that will seat 1,000 people and their first residential hall.
The land developer and their partners, and the public were also invited to join the discussion. The desires of our residents are important to consider as we are building a downtown from scratch, and we want it to thrive and survive for the long-term. Comments and questions were also noted from Facebook Live. Resident desires include: more eclectic restaurants, entertainment options, upscale bars, small shops and boutiques, housing similar to Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, a performing arts center, and parks and city bus routes that can transport residents to the area. It is evident that residents do not desire more senior living complexes and apartments. Bottom line is that Council’s plan for the area always included the creation of a downtown that would allow walkability, recreation and interaction amongst those that would reside and congregate there.
Events & Meetings
Arizona Charter Academy Veterans Day Concert
Arizona Charter Academy (ACA) hosted their second annual Veterans Day concert on Thursday, November 9. Veterans from Surprise were invited to attend the breakfast and the patriotic concert led by their 7th grade choir. I’m very appreciative of ACA’s acknowledgment of our veterans and the beautiful voices of their choir. It was a touching event. Many thanks to ACA’s CEO Melissa Holdaway and Music Director Rachael Crossman for your continued partnership!
Surprise Veterans Day Parade
The city hosted its 3rd Annual Veterans Day parade on Saturday, November 11. Our Grand Marshal was David G. Herrerea who served in U.S. Army and is a World War II veteran. Each year, the attendance continues to grow for the parade. This year, there were 80 parade entries. Approximately 350 people enjoyed the pancake breakfast that was catered by Puffy Taco Shack, and approximately 5,000 people attended the parade. Those who entered the parade were also judged in a variety of different categories. The winners are:
- Best Veteran Service Organization: VFW Post 286, Nicky D. Bacon
- Best Military: Vietnam Veterans of America- Billee Culin, Chapter 1043
- Best Motorized: M-151 A1 Military Jeep & M-416 Trailer
- Best Non-Motorized: Painted Promise Ranch
- Best Musical/Performance: Shadow Ridge High School Marching Band
- Best Youth: Cub Scout Pack 194
Congratulations! And a special thank you to our Community and Recreation Services and Sports and Tourism departments for their hard work and dedication preparing for this event!
Veterans Day Ceremony at Sun Village
I participated in the Veterans Day ceremony at Sun Village on Saturday, November 11. I was honored to be part of the Honor Guard. Each year, Sun Village hosts this ceremony. Many thanks to the hard work and dedication of resident Tomas Garcia. Thank you!
Future of Cross-Border Healthcare Panel Discussion
As seasonal Canadian visitors return to Arizona in ever-increasing numbers, the city is studying how to provide better, more innovative healthcare options for them in the future. On Tuesday November 14, the Surprise Economic Development Department hosted a panel discussion at City Hall with Canadian leaders who are seeking to advance an important cross-border healthcare initiative in partnership with the city. The Surprise Economic Development Department is leading an initiative to bring Canadian medical services and Canadian medical practitioners to the market. Surprise is aiming to be a medical destination for services where rehabilitation and recovery is most desirable in a warm climate. Cross-Border Healthcare Taskforces were formed earlier this year in both Canada and the City of Surprise, and the taskforces intend to deliver a feasibility report on the issue early 2018.
New Lease on Life Initiative
Christopher Todd Communities recently asked that I participate on a committee to evaluate essays. The company launched a non-profit initiative called “A New Lease on Life” that will give those in need a helping hand, one person or one family at a time. The company has also partnered with Veterans Directory to help identify an honorably discharged veteran transitioning to civilian life. That selected veteran will receive free rent for one year, 50 percent reduced rent the second year and 25 percent reduced rent the third year at their new community in Surprise at Litchfield and Greenway roads. As part of the committee, we reviewed 20 applications and provided the company with our top three choices to receive this gift. For more information regarding this initiative, please visit The Veterans Directory website at www.TheVeteransDirectory.org. You can find the application and program requirements there as well.
Mark Your Calendar
Surprise Super Swap Meet
The Surprise Super Swap Meet will be held on Saturday, November 18 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Surprise Aquatic Center, 15831 N. Bullard Avenue. Parking and admission are free. There will be more than 60 vendors with new and gently used treasures on display. This event is sponsored by the City of Surprise Human Service and Community Vitality Department and the Surprise Senior Center Site Council. If you would like more information, please call 623.222.1500.
Public Comment Period for North-South Corridor Environmental Study Opens
As the North-South Corridor environmental study progresses with some changes to the proposed corridor alternatives, the Arizona Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, is now seeking comments on the options from the public. There have been several changes to the study since 2014 when the last formal public comment period was held.
The North-South Corridor, spanning more than 40 miles between US 60 and I-10 in Pinal County, includes multiple proposed alternative corridors with segment options throughout. This comment period is open for 30 days, and all comments received by December 14 will be entered into the Corridor Selection Report for this phase of work.
Comments can be sent to the following:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- ADOT Project Information Line: 1-855-712-8530
North-South Corridor Study Team
c/o ADOT Communications
1655 W. Jackson St., Mail Drop 126F
Phoenix, AZ 85007
For more information on the North-South Corridor Study, please visit the website at www.azdot.gov/NorthSouthCorridorStudy.
Did You Know?
Smallcakes of Surprise
Please join me in welcoming Smallcakes of Surprise to Surprise. Smallcakes recently celebrated their grand opening earlier this month. They are located at 13706 West Bell Road (Suite 14), and they are open seven days a week.
Opioid Addiction Resource Website Has Launched!
It’s no secret that opioid abuse in the United States has become a national crisis, and while many people think it’s only about the use of illegal drugs (heroin), there is an increase in people becoming addicted to opioid-based pain killers (fentanyl and codeine). Everyday people using legally-prescribed pain medications are becoming addicted, and the results are deadly.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that in 2015, 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids and more than 33,000 people died from overdosing on opioids. Since 2012 opioid deaths in Arizona have increased 74 percent, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
In support of our nation’s and state’s initiatives to combat this problem, the city has created a website www.surpriseaz.gov/opioidhelp to connect abusers to various local and national resources and support agencies working to end opioid abuse. In addition, following state recommendations, our first responders, both Fire-Medical and Police are trained on the use of naloxone (Narcan) which is utilized to help reverse an opioid overdose. Surprise Fire-Medical has also established partnerships with substance abuse facilities that allow for direct transfer and immediate evaluation of patients as part of the new Treat and Refer program.
The city has a RX Drop-off location in our Police Department lobby (14250 W. Statler Plaza), where you can safely dispose of your unwanted or expired prescription drugs. The website also features videos addressing the crisis and a link to the state’s report on the issue, including legislative recommendations for combating the epidemic.