Thursday, February 2, 2012

Historic State of the City Address

Grandview "On the Edge of Prosperity," says Mayor Steve Dennis
By Seann McAnally
Grandview Mayor Steve Dennis
As residents and business leaders crowded The View Community Center on Jan. 26 prior to Mayor Steve Dennis’ annual State of the City address, they talked about the “big announcement” they expected about the future of Truman Corners.
As it turned out, they didn’t get it. Instead, the crowd was given hints as to potential new projects along 150 Highway and throughout the city. And the mayor was given a chance to act as, in his words, “the chief cheerleader for our city” on the cusp of the Grandview’s 100th anniversary.
 “I know everybody wanted me to make a major announcement today,” Dennis said, “but I feel very comfortable with where we are. You guys will be hearing announcements in the next week and a half, and we’re going to have a new front door for our city.”
Dennis clearly referenced the two competing proposals for redevelopment of Truman Corners, which he called “the biggest issue of our time.” RED Development has the backing of the Chamber of Commerce and a slew of residents who have spoken in favor of it, while the current owner, ARMC, has a more modest proposal that has met with less enthusiasm. Dennis said city staff and elected officials are doing their “due diligence” in making sure the city isn’t “put at risk” by either proposal, referring to the massive public subsidy RED is requesting, and its request that the city back bonds for the project.
Though Truman Corners is on everyone’s minds, there’s much more going on in Grandview – and much of that speaks to a new sense of energy and renewal in town, Dennis said. He said other communities are starting to notice.
“I used to think we were alone on an island, and that the other cities were competitors for development – especially those people on the evil side of the state line in Kansas,” he joked, drawing a chuckle from the crowd. “But I’ve also found that the men and women in leadership in nearby cities are people of honor. There will be more joint ventures between cities in the metropolitan area.”
Dennis praised the Chamber of Commerce for recruiting and attracting businesses in tough times.
“These folks work tirelessly,” Dennis said. “They love our city.”
Dennis singled out Grandview businesses for praise, and thanked them for locating here.
“A city can never say thank you often enough,” he said. “You could have located anywhere in the metro and you chose to be Grandview businesses.”
He apologized to city employees for the lack of cost-of-living pay increases for the last three years.
“But with the budget, even in difficult times, we passed a balanced city budget without any layoffs, without any furloughs or cuts to basic services. In the toughest economy of our lifetimes, Grandview is actually on the edge of prosperity.”
Dennis singled out each city department for praise, focusing on the Public Works Department.
“As long as I’ve lived here I’ve never seen this much activity, and lot of that has to do with that guy sitting right there,” Dennis said, pointing at Director of Public Works Dennis Randolph.
Dennis spoke of the Main Street Revitalization project as a sure sign that Grandview is refreshing its image.
“Main Street redevelopment will bring new life to our city,” Dennis said. “I know it’s a little inconvenient on Main Street right now, but bear with us, because it’s going to be really cool.”
He said he was also excited about “pumping energy” into the Farmer’s Market location at 8th and Main, which is expected to be expanded and redeveloped later this year.
“The Farmer’s Market will have never looked, or tasted, so good,” Dennis said.
He praised the Public Works Department for the “boring stuff” that isn’t generally noticed by the public – specifically road and sewer work. Dennis also dished out thanks to the Parks and Recreation Department, and plugged the new destination playground Brumble’s Forest, expected to open in April. He said leaders in other cities are already asking about it.
“It’s already being talked about around the city as one of the most unique play areas,” he said.
Dennis said Grandview residents could also be proud of the developing scene at 71 and 150 highways. He praised Gail Worth of Gail’s Harley Davidson for getting the ball rolling and “being a pioneer.”
“Gail started the success train rolling down on 150 Highway,” Dennis said, noting the new restaurants and Hickman Mills Clinic / Encompass Medical Group facility that have sprung up in the area.
And, though he stressed that the deals were still in the talking stage, he said it was worth noting that developers are approaching the city about the possibility of a new grocery store or movie theater on the 150 Highway corridor. He also mentioned the expansion of the Grand Summit complex and Wayside Waifs as evidence of positive economic movement in the city.
Dennis urged residents and businesses to shop locally when they can.
“I know we’re all challenged a little bit in what we can buy right now, but that’s changing,” he said, adding that the Board of Aldermen is trying to find ways to make Grandview more business-friendly.
“I know it’s not perfect, but we really bend over backwards,” he said.
Dennis pointed out that Grandview is celebrating its Centennial Anniversary this year, and spoke of major upcoming celebrations, particularly the new Truman Heritage Festival in the spring.
“There’s a lot of work still to be done…but I know that we can reshape this city. I know it in my heart. I see Grandview 10 years from now, and I really, really love what I see. I hope you’re starting to see that vision, too.”
Ultimately, Dennis said, Grandview’s positive forward momentum can be maintained in little ways.
“I’m starting to realize that it all starts with little acts…acts of home repair…acts of charity…isn’t that what we should all be doing anyway?”

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