Mayors’ column: Vineyard celebrating 30 years
Vineyard is celebrating its 30th year of incorporation this year.
We are very excited to honor our heritage and our growth. We will be celebrating throughout the year, with a big celebration at the end of May through the beginning of June. We will be making a time capsule, and we will open it again in our 50th year.
Our city is very different than it was one year ago, let alone 5 or 30 years ago. It will continue to change and shape into something new as the years advance.
With Utah’s demands of growth, Vineyard has had to face the challenges of a small town turning into a rising city overnight. This is one of the reasons I chose to run for mayor. The pressures have continued throughout the state, and we have worked diligently to meet the demands, push back where it was called for and create a place that is inviting and welcoming to call home.
It’s been a good year, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity each of you has given me to be your mayor, and represent your voices.
As I said when I was running for election, transparency drives excellent leadership, accountability and success for our community. It allows people to communicate their needs and holds elected officials, city staff, and us as individuals accountable.
An enormous goal was to make our city more transparent. During my election, we as a people discussed how our records and data needed to be more accessible to the residents and staff, so we could work more efficiently together and communicate more transparently.
In the last year, we adopted an electronic content management system, which has simplified our record keeping and has highly improved our ability to clean up our codes, ordinances and fulfill record requests. This new program revamped our entire record system and took mass amounts of work to accomplish. Due to this type of overhaul and hard work on such a big ask, our city records keeper was honored with Recorder of the Year in the entire state.
We have continued to update and increase our usability on our website, and have advanced our use of social media and notification technology to keep residents aware of changes and information. I have worked to promote responsiveness and engagement to help support and facilitate the voices of our residents. Our council and staff have been incredible in their outreach and research.
As a city that’s growing rapidly and uniquely, we needed to focus on safety and keeping our city clean and beautiful.
We started a code enforcement program this year. We have changed from a reactive code enforcement approach to more proactive, which is safer, and more cost-effective. Part of this process has been improving and updating codes to make sure they are enforceable and helpful to our city. We have become involved with our local emergency planning committees. Our officers are on 24-hour coverage and have started a Facebook page to help connect with the residents. We have begun crime prevention programs for theft, vandalism, nuisance, drugs and abuse and our response times are down.
If you see a deputy, be sure to wave or say hello. They are here for you, and genuinely care about the community.
Sustainable infrastructure and balanced density have been the key elements in our planning this year. The first thing our City Council took on in January 2018 was updating the General Plan. Our community development director and city planners put their heads down and went to work. A committee was formed, experts were brought in, state entities were invited to discuss, and several city halls have been held to help the community facilitate the changes we want to see.
We have protected valued land, updated poor zoning and fought against outside entities trying to take those zoning rights from our city. A government closest to the people is best.
This fall I was invited to Washington, D.C. to discuss what our communities are facing. One of the things I talked about was the importance of keeping zoning rights in the city so that we wouldn’t be forced to have density in areas that didn’t make sense. I also discussed the need to look at growth more regionally vs. forcing every city to take on density. The council and our staff, as well as our planners, will continue to work hard to fight for balanced density.
This year, we started a lot of new relationships. We have created good ties with our executive and legislative state representatives. We have a terrific connection with the new president of Utah Valley University. We meet regularly and have strong relationships with our local and state entities.
In November 2017, I mentioned that I would focus on infrastructure. We got the agreement signed for the removal of the spur line along Geneva; something that has been in discussion for over a decade.
We obtained funding for the FrontRunner station in 2018 and have been laying the foundation for the station and the Main Street extension. We are looking at a spring start date for the platform construction. Our public works department has been phenomenal! They already have the designs and engineering done for the funded Center Street Overpass. We are waiting on air right approval from Union Pacific Railroad, and we will begin construction.
Our maps for the city have been updated and made interactive. We’ve upgraded our systems, and have started to clean up our lakeshore and trees. We obtained machinery reducing our contract prices and provided the city with the ability to take care of issues in a better-organized and prioritized system! We started a recreational department, and spring soccer registration will be starting soon. There have been many more things accomplished by this department, and it’s been busy and exciting.
We have been proactively engaged in bringing the right businesses to Vineyard. Our staff, council, commissioners, and residents have also been huge advocates for our economic development as well, reaching out to commercial opportunities that will shape our city. We will continue to see the fruits of their labors over the next several years. Additionally, our café community library will be opening soon!
Aside from all the new things that arrived at the beginning of the year, you have probably experienced the changes around the Megaplex; new restaurants and stores have been opening every few weeks the last few months. It’s been excellent meeting the owners and experiencing their visions of success. If you haven’t been, I encourage you to go.
It’s difficult not to become a regular at Rocket Fizz where the soda and candy provide laughs and delightful experiences every visit. Umami Japanese BBQ gives the experience of a personal private grill at each table with delicious food, and just next door you can taste the delicious ice cream at Brooker’s that simultaneously sparks discussion about our countries founders and American heritage. A new park will be opening soon, as well as Starbucks and the UVHBA building. Three medical buildings were approved this last Wednesday, and as you may have read recently, Big Shots, a competitor to Top Golf was approved Wednesday night to come in just south of the Megaplex.
Our building department has been working to streamline their processes, to make reviews for new industries coming to Vineyard workable. The state requires 14 days for review, and our new systems are showing an average of 5.75 days for a review.
We all set out to accomplish big things this year to make a difference in Vineyard. I’m happy to report that we did, and we will continue the momentum. Thank you for your support and ideas.
Thank you for your patience, and volunteer service that has made so much possible. I will continue to listen and find solutions. Happy New Year!