‘State of city’ lets mayor lay out his vision for Havasu

February 10, 2019

When former Lake Havasu City Councilman Cal Sheehy was elected to replace Mark Nexsen as the city’s mayor, Sheehy knew it would be a tough act to follow. On Monday, he’ll have another.

Gov. Doug Ducey will be making a stop in Lake Havasu City Monday to give his State of the State address to Havasu residents. While Ducey’s speech might be a tough act to follow, Mayor Cal Sheehy’s address could be no less important to Havasu residents. Sheehy is scheduled to give a “State of the City” address on Monday at the London Bridge Convention Center, where Ducey was invited to speak at a luncheon of the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sheehy is no stranger to Havasu’s people, politics; and as general manager of the London Bridge Resort, he’s familiar with the city’s tourism economy. Although the state of the city will be addressed next week, Havasu tourism and business representatives were optimistic about the city’s health and future prospects.

According to Lake Havasu City Visitor Center Director Jan Kassies, Havasu has for the past several years seen an average of about 100,000 visitors, annually —the majority of whom visit Havasu from January through March — and the city’s popularity has only seemed to grow.

“I moved here in 2003,” Kassies said. “The quality of life was good: I could get whatever I needed, the weather was fine, and it still is. The climate around town is nice and easy going. I call Havasu my last resort … it has what I need, and what I want. For anything else, big cities are easy to get to. When people come to the visitor center, they like the people here, they like going to places in town and to events. It takes a little bit of knowing your way around town, but that’s also what makes Havasu great.”

Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Krueger has watched the city grow for more than 30 years, and says the city’s change has been largely positive.

“As a community, Havasu has progressed really well,” Krueger said. “The sewer system was improved, we have better roads and stoplights … we have a new mayor, new elected officials, and a wonderful opportunity to make even more great things happen. There’s nowhere to go but further up.”

Former Lake Havasu City officials offered opinions of their own about the state of the city. Former City Councilman Dean Barlow has lived in Havasu since 1996, and believes the city is moving in a positive direction.

“There are a lot more people here now,” Barlow said. “A lot of things have happened in the last 20 years, and Nexsen left the city in very good shape. There are some things I question, but we’re generally doing ok.”

Barlow expects Sheehy to address Havasu’s Vision 2020 plan as part of his State of the City address next week. The plan, crafted in 2015, was considered instrumental in the city being recognized as one of “America’s Best Communities” in a contest organized by Frontier Communications. The plan was intended to map Havasu’s growth over the next 15 years, with emphasis on economic development, education, tourism, water conservation and community engagement.

“I think (Sheehy) will emphasize the Vision 2020 obligations, and the promises made during the contest,” Barlow said. “It was a good plan then, it’s a good plan now, and he ought to go ahead with it. I think Sheehy will make a good mayor, and I fully support him.”

According to former Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen, the state of Havasu is positive, and he expects to see that trend continue under Sheehy’s guidance.

“From a financial standpoint, Havasu is in great shape,” Nexsen said. “I can’t take all the credit for that. City staff and the city council – Cal included – all played a part. We watched every dollar and tried to build reserves for the future when we needed them. I know (Sheehy) will do a great job.”

Having lived in Havasu for 21 years, Nexsen moved to Wickenburg after leaving office last year. But Havasu’s quality of life has improved greatly in his two decades as a resident, he said.

“The long and short of it is that Havasu’s an isolated community, with a tremendous number of amenities and wonderful nonprofit organizations,” Nexsen said. “Overall, it’s a great place to live.”

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