City Council Meeting
City Council Work Session
The City Council met for our regularly scheduled Work Session on Tuesday, October 7th. As part of the Work Session, Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Johnston discussed the amendments to the fireworks regulation the State legislature recently made. They created three categories of fireworks which consist of display fireworks (fireworks necessitating a permit from the City), consumer fireworks (fireworks citizens can purchase and use, subject to regulation), and unregulated fireworks that can be utilized anywhere, such as sparklers. Display fireworks continue to be closely regulated by the City. The Fire Department would like Council to consider similar changes to our current Fireworks Ordinance that would mimic the updated State changes. The Ordinance would state consumer fireworks cannot be set off on public property (property belonging to any government entity); the use and sales of consumer fireworks are limited to time periods specified in the legislation just passed; consumers must be 16 years of age to purchase and set-off fireworks; and, consumer fireworks cannot be set off without the permission of the property owner. This Ordinance would require the sellers of fireworks to obtain a permit from the Fire-Medical Department, which would provide recovery of expenses for an emergency response relating to firework injuries.
In addition to the discussion on fireworks, Misty Leslie, City Attorney, reviewed the Council’s requested changes to the Council’s Boards & Commissions policies. Some of the discussion included the adoption of an annual schedule for each Commission’s regular meetings; prohibiting political activity (members must resign to run for a local election) by tendering a letter of resignation prior to campaigning; and, the elimination of the Teen Advisory Board and the Surprise Youth Leadership Commission to integrate the Youth Civic Leaders Program.
City Council Regular Meeting
Mike Gent, Public Works Director, and Dave Kohlbeck, Business Manager, provided the City Council with an overview of the fiscal year 2014 transit service as well as the planned fiscal year 2015 services. Surprise Express Route 571 bus service was reviewed. The City plans to work with Phoenix, El Mirage and Valley Metro to keep the fourth trip we acquired in July 2013. Surprise will continue to seek a convenient temporary relocation of the Park-and-Ride once the construction of the Bell/Grand Avenue overpass begins. Future transit services, such as a Surprise circulator and Surprise connection to regional service routes, were also discussed.
The Valley Metro Dial-A-Ride services were reviewed. Priority has been given to ADA, seniors and others with disabilities. Currently, services are provided Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm. Fares within the City limits for service are $1 and outside the City limits are $1.25. Based on consumer surveys, Dial-A-Ride is mostly utilized for medical purposes (31%), followed by other uses (27%) and work (20%). Possible expanded weekday service, extended weeknight service hours and added Saturday service was discussed.
Janeen Gaskins, Grants Administrator, reviewed our current Surprise Community Outreach Program, and she suggested changes to the evaluation criteria based on the recommendations from the Grants & Community Outreach Committee. The Council has set aside $50,000 to help support local 501(c)3. The Committee had requested one funding round for FY14-15 and the elimination of in-kind contributions. Mrs. Gaskins will conduct a pre-application meeting that will help determine eligibility. Later this month, the Committee will review and rank the recommendations with plans to present their award recommendations to the entire City Council in November 2014. These changes were passes unanimously.
Events & Meetings
The City hosted an HOA Summit on Thursday, October 2nd for residents and leadership of HOA communities in Surprise. The Summit provided an opportunity to ask questions and share concerns and ideas with City Council and City staff representing Police, Public Works, Code Enforcement, Economic Development, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhood Services. There were 44 people in attendance representing 19 HOAs (Happy Trails, Sarah Ann Ranch, Summerfield, Sun City Grand, West Pointe, Sierra Montana, Surprise Farms 1,2 & 3, Sun Village, Rancho Gabriella, Mountain Vista Ranch, Greenway Parc I & II, Northwest Ranch, Sierra Verde, Saguara View, Greer Ranch South and Asante).
Surprise Fiesta Grande
The inaugural Surprise Fiesta Grande was held on Saturday, October 4th. To kick-off the festival, a special ceremony was held to name the recreation area (Gaines Park, Surprise Senior Center, Hollyhock Pool, Villanueva Recreation Center and Hollyhock Library) in the Old Town Site after former Mayor, Vice Mayor and long- serving Councilman Roy Villanueva. I had the honor of serving on the Council with Roy for several years prior to his passing in July 2014. Roy was instrumental to our City as he initiated many important improvements in the areas of housing rehabilitation, economic development, utilities, police and fire services and federal grants.
Roy Villanueva Photo Dedication Roy Villanueva Recreation Complex Plaque The Fiesta was quite a success! Mark Coronado, Director of Community and Recreation Services, and his team were able to obtain 33 local business partners, 9 food vendors and 122 entries for the car show. Mr. Coronado estimates 14,000 to 16,000 people attended the event!
Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission Meeting
The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission hosted their monthly meeting at City Hall on Monday, October 6th. Susan deJong, Commission Chair, informed the Commission that she will proceed to schedule the Luncheon Theater Program through Herberger Theater and that the West Valley Arts HQ is a possible site for the program. Eric Faulhaber, the Visual Arts Coordinator for the City of Chandler and Coordinator of the platFORM initiative gave the group a presentation outlining the platFORM program. Councilman Jim Biundo and I were in attendance and found this program very interesting! The initiative is available to create opportunities for student artists to place existing pieces or propose new sculptures for placement in public places. The Commission will place this item on the November agenda for discussion and possible action to make the recommendation to the City Council. The next cycle starts in April 2015. Lastly, the Commission unanimously voted to endorse WHAM’s “Give your Community a Hand” mural project. The unveiling will take place at the Surprise Party in December.
60th Aerial Delivery
I invited Mick Anderson and several other veterans to meet with the Mayor and me to receive a Certificate of Appreciation for their service in the US Air Force. This special group of veterans meets every other year at a different location and this year, it was Surprise! We were able to thank the group for their service and sacrifice to our country and provide them with a tour of the Council Chamber.
Community Drug Awareness Symposium
On October 8th, I attended the Community Drug Awareness Symposium at the CCV Surprise campus that was hosted by the Surprise Police Department and CCV. The Symposium provided information on the dangers of drugs and how to recognize signs and symptoms associated with drug abuse. Resources were available to those impacted by drugs.
Mark Your Calendars
Surprise Police Department – Tip A Cop Event
Representatives from the Surprise Police Department will be waiting tables alongside the staff of Red Robin to raise money for Special Olympics during the annual “Tip-A-Cop” event on Saturday, October 11th. Tips earned will be donated to the Special Olympics Arizona. The event will be held at the Red Robin located at 14015 W. Bell Road from 11 am until 3 pm and again from 4 pm until 8 pm.
Residents with old paint cans, car batteries, etc. are encouraged to drop off these items at the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on Saturday, October 11th from 8 a.m. until 12 noon. The event will be held at the Public Works Maintenance Yard at 13433 W. Foxfire Drive.
Second Sunday in the Park
Second Sunday in the Park will be held this Sunday, October 12th from 2 pm until 4 pm at the Surprise Community Park, 15953 N. Bullard Avenue. The band, the Big Zephyr, will be playing a variety of music to entertain us all!
Monday, October 13th is Columbus Day. Please note that City Hall will be closed.
Litchfield Road Closure
Beginning at 8 pm on Tuesday, October 14th, MCDOT (Maricopa County Department of Transportation) will temporarily close Litchfield Road at Northern Parkway to facilitate bridge construction. During the closure, Northern Parkway will remain open. Reems Road or Dysart Road may be utilized as an alternate route. Litchfield Road will reopen by 5 am on Wednesday, October 15th.
Boards & Commissions
The City is accepting applications for a few of our Boards and Commissions. Those with openings include:
- Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission (1 vacancy)
- Disability Advisory Commission (2 vacancies)
- Health & Benefits Trust Fund Board (2 vacancies)
- Planning & Zoning (1 vacancy)
All positions are voluntary. Applications are accepted at the City Clerk’s office, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza (Monday through Friday from 8 am – 5 pm) or online at www.surpriseaz.gov. For more information, please call the City Clerk at 623.222.1200.
You can learn how to optimize your retirement income with a free class that will help you best position your portfolio to take advantage of tax saving strategies and minimize exposure to market volatility on Wednesday, October 22nd from 10 am until 11:30 am at the Public Safety Building, 14250 W. Statler. This free class will be taught by Mark Melkowski and Robert Feinholz with American Financial Education Alliance. For more information or to register, please call Ruby Sitea at 623.222.3242.