ROGERS -- Mayor Greg Hines highlighted job growth, new educational facilities, downtown revitalization and a swath of new developments among the many recent accomplishments of the city.
Hines spoke to a full city hall during the state of the city address Tuesday night and gave a nod to the ever-changing nature of the city.
Rogers’ City Council met Tuesday and approved:
• Buying a Sensor VantageRadius System for the Street Department.
• Buying a $153,223 dozer for the Street Department.
• Accepting dedication of South 54th Street and easements.
• Scheduling a hearing concerning the vacation of a certain portion of Pecan Street.
• Amending certain provisions of Chapter 44 of the code of ordinances to allow the Planning Commission to deviate from the provisions of the sign code.
Source: Staff report
"As times have changed, so has our economic drivers," he said. "We've grown from a shipping point for the A&M Railroad, to a largely industrial community, to a city driven by a strong retail market."
Hines touted the completion of $102 million in infrastructure improvement and the completion of the 2011 bond issue, which was responsible for $130 million worth of parks, infrastructure and public safety improvement.
The city welcomed 38 new businesses downtown, creating 2,500 jobs and a continued growth in sales tax revenue at an average of 7 percent increase in 2017, he said.
"We know there's a great relationship between the city and the business community," said Greg Fogle, treasurer for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce board, who represented the board chairman during the address. "They do a wonderful job for our community. Through commercial development, residential development and job growth, it's a wonderful place to be and raise our families."
It was a big year for expanding the city's educational facilities, Hines said, with Haas Hall Academy opening in the recently renovated Lane Hotel, the public school system opening the Crossroads Learning Center and a major expansion of the Arkansas Arts Academy that nearly doubled its size.
The Planning Department stayed busy with all the new developments cropping up in town, Hines said. Two new retail centers and many other projects are expected along Pauline Whitaker Parkway, Pleasant Crossing and the old Mills Family Farm. A notable project was taken by Hunt Ventures for a new urban, mixed-use development for a village-like, walkable community.
The Planning Department will be moved to the first floor of city hall this year to give the public better access to the officials reviewing new projects, Hines said.
Transportation continually developed and improved the city road system with 47 projects over the past year. Perry Road and the Trail of Two Cities pedestrian path are among the notable completions. The city was awarded $4.5 million in transportation and open space grants in 2017 and began work on Pleasant Grove Road, Bellview Road and the Northern Loop trail system.
Two departments received large federal assistance with major projects.
Rogers Parks and Recreation received FEMA assistance to repair flood damage to Lake Atalanta, and the Rogers Executive Airport completed a $6.6 million project to improve its runway with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Safety continued to be a top priority, which Hines said was evident through the city's ISO rating of 1 and having nationally accredited police, dispatch, fire and EMS departments. Fire Chief Tom Jenkins became president of the International Fire Chiefs Association.
Hines said residents can expect the completion of a citywide infrastructure plan, design and renovation of Northwest Park, a new Mount Hebron park, a complete trail loop around the city and the completion of the Hailey Ford building in 2018.
Although the positive aspects of the city were front and center for the evening, resident Gary Meeks said Rogers would be even better with an additional human rights ordinance.
"We have an opportunity to be seen as progressive and embrace human rights day to day, related to who you do business with or buy anything from, we should show diligence to promote goodwill," Meeks said. "There are forces in the world that do not recognize the importance of this."
Meeks spoke during a public hearing prior to City Council business and presented a proposed ordinance to Jennifer Waymack, senior staff attorney, for review.
"In our small way, my hope is that Rogers can review this resolution and adopt it, so we all in this community can feel proud," Meeks said.
NW News on 02/14/2018
Print Headline: Jobs, business, education all growing, mayor says