Acting Mayor Maloney delivers his State of the City Address
"This is my second State of the City Address and is coming a little later than is typical due to the recently concluded campaign. I feel like from December through April 4, I gave the State of City address many times a day as I made my case to the voters. While things are not perfect here at City Hall, we have a great deal of positive momentum and now that we are past the election can work to bring some stability to the City, once a new Council is sworn in on May 1, 2017.
We will be working to fill the vacancy in the 7th Ward that will be created when I am sworn in, and simultaneously the new council is going to be able to finally tackle the Human Resource challenges that were created when our previous City Manager resigned last May. I am grateful for the work that Joe and Andrea have put in over the last 11 months, and frankly, I have seen each member of staff pick up their respective games and work on behalf of the residents.
On Tuesday, April 4, the voters delivered a number of messages when they cast their ballots, but the message I heard during the campaign was that we (collectively) are doing a great job, people are happy with their city government…on balance and want to see us continue our progress. Financially things continue to get better and we recently concluded a budget process with a reduced levy from the previous years that actually has us re-investing in our infrastructure as well as personnel. These were areas in which we were forced to cut back due to the burdens that the TIF presented. While we are not out of the woods as far as the TIF is concerned, we have turned a corner of sorts and are gaining ground. The budget reflects that progress.
We will be repaving more streets, planting more trees, and lining more sewers than we have in previous years, as well as advancing on our parking challenges that we face in this area of town. I want to highlight one construction project that has already begun and is not costing the City of Park Ridge a thing. The State of Illinois is repaving Talcott from border to border – helping a much needed arterial street in our town get the work it needs. While I am grateful to the work staff put in to make this happen as well as our friends in Springfield that helped – we need to be present and continue to make our case because getting Talcott done is fantastic, but Touhy needs work and so does Devon. We’ll never get complacent – there’s just too much work to do.
With the approval of the Local 150 contract, we will have agreements in place with most of our bargaining units, having forged agreements in a transparent manner that has become our standard approach to negotiating labor contacts here in the City.
That brings up another message that the voters sent a couple of weeks ago. HITA. HITA works, HITA makes sense and people appreciate our approach to governing and want to see it continue in other areas of Park Ridge. Honesty, Integrity, Transparency, and Accountability. Really four very straight forward concepts that shouldn’t be the least bit controversial. Listen to the people you represent, explain why things are happening or why they are not, and be accountable – even when people don’t like your choices. For some reason, these concepts were confused with some grand plan or agenda but at the end of the day, it’s just the least complicated way to work for the residents and businesses in town. I look forward to seeing it take hold around town.
As I said many times on the campaign trail….I’m proud of the progress we have made in the past two years in economic development, filling empty stores, bringing foot traffic to Uptown AND South Park. We haven’t had to sell our soul to anyone to make it work, and we haven’t sacrificed any of the charm and attractiveness of our community to make it work.
Have we encountered a bit of a parking challenge….have we seen an increase in traffic on our streets? You bet we have….and the City is working to address those items and we’ll see solutions coming back over the next few months that speak to those.
This past year brought the City back to the forgotten, or at least neglected, practice of strategic planning. We had a number of sessions focused on where the City should be heading, what our priorities are and how we can begin to execute on those priorities in the short and long term. If one paid attention to the budgeting process, you were clued into some of those priorities. We will be focused, predictably on economic development, rebuilding infrastructure, utilizing technology to reduce costs, as well as increase efficiencies and convenience for residents. We will continue to make it easier and safer to walk and/or ride your bike in Park Ridge and work with many people throughout town who wish to see the city move to incorporate more sustainability principals into our organization as well as help lead the community and help others do the same.
With summer right around the corner I look forward to a calendar that was already full with parades, concerts, festivals become even fuller. There will be the addition of a BBQ competition as well as a number of other events and offerings that will allow Park Ridge to shine and continue to be the envy of our neighbors.
We (the City Council), will be hosting our Seventh Annual Grilling for the Arts night in conjunction with the Friday Night Concerts in the Park, continuing the tradition that Dave (Schmidt, the late former Mayor) and Dan (Knight, the late Fifth Ward Alderman), began many years ago. We may rename it, ever so slightly to honor both of those gentlemen but the intent will be the same – to raise money for this great cause.
We are blessed to be living in a place which has such a strong sense of community. Park Ridge works so well because those that live here commit to making it better each and every day. My thanks go out to all of the people here tonight and those who are or will be watching the Address on television or the City’s website.
Have a good evening."