Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan delivered his annual state of the city address before the City Council meeting last Tuesday.
Jordan said not only is the city in good shape, but his administration also has a plan to keep it that way.
“Friends, Council Members, and citizens I want to assure you that the state of our city is strong and financially sound,” Jordan said. I also want to assure you of something else…We have a well thought-out strategy; we have a plan to keep our city strong and sound.”
He began with a list of thank-yous and reminders of the city’s many awards and recognitions from last year.
In 2017, the city was named one of the fifth Best Places to Live by U. S. News and World Report and the Seventh Best City to Launch a Career by Realtor.com.
City leaders were presented the 2017 Special Contribution to Planning Award by the Arkansas Chapter of the American Planning Association for Fayetteville’s tactical urbanism application process, and the city’s walkability initiatives earned a bronze-level “Walk Friendly Community” designation – the first in Arkansas.
Jordan said sustained sales tax growth will allow the city to pay down the $120 million sales tax bond voters approved in 2006 earlier than expected. That debt, he said, should be paid off sometime in 2019, approximately five years sooner than anticipated, which will save additional interest costs.
“Because of our financial stewardship in this city, our ability to invest in the future has been secured,” he said.
The city now has an opportunity to invest in a new package of capital projects for future growth at the same tax rate currently in place, Jordan said.
The previous package paid for a variety of infrastructure projects around town, including the College Avenue flyover and downtown improvements, the extensions of Van Asche Drive and Rupple Road, the restoration of the historic bridges on Lafayette and Maple streets, improvements to Cato Springs Road, the widening of Garland Avenue, and more.
Moving forward, Jordan said to expect continued improvements on College Avenue, the realization of the “Mayor’s Box,” an arterial loop that will be finished once the final leg of Rupple to Howard Nickell roads is complete, the completion of Cato Springs Trail, and improvements to Highway 112.
Other items to look forward to include the beginnings of a 10-year Strategic Plan for Parks and Recreation, the start of a Digital Inclusion Plan to ensure that all residents have access to information and communication technologies, and a rate study to determine the “true cost” of all recycling and trash collection services.
In 2018, Jordan said the city will build the Niokaska Creek Trail from Mud Creek Trail to Gulley Park, a project that will make a complete east/west trail connection from Gulley Park to the Razorback Greenway.
He said to also expect the opening of a new splash pad at Walker Park, replacement of the lights at Wilson Park’s tennis courts and improvements to the park’s basketball courts, and the rollout of a map of free public Wi-Fi hotspots in major parks and the entertainment district.
Jordan said his administration wants to serve as a bridge between the younger generations, “who bring new and great ideas about urban competitiveness, and our traditionalists, who hold very high standards of what this city is and all it can be.”
In closing, Jordan offered a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
It really boils down to this: That all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.
“Together we will shape our own destiny for this city and its people,” said Jordan.