This past year the city has been busy and I’d like to share just a few of the accomplishments.
•In economic development, the city achieved a milestone 10 years in the making with the regional designation for the Cascade Industrial Center. This designation opens doors for the city to access grants that were not available before. We have already started to see the results of this, with new employers opening facilities, providing family wage jobs for residents and reducing the need to travel outside of the area for work.
•In public safety, we achieved a reduction in reported crimes, especially in the area of property crimes. We have seen steady use of our Law Enforcement Embedded Social Worker program, which engages the homeless and opioid addicted with services that help them become productive members of society. In 2019, we have made 588 contacts, obtained housing for 37 people, enrolled 41 in treatment, with 15 completing that treatment. We established a new way of handling domestic violence cases, providing more interaction and services to victims with the goal of reducing the number of cases with the same involved parties. At Arlington Fire, we focused on examining the opportunities for partnerships with the North County Regional Fire Authority. These conversations netted the sharing of three positions. It also allowed us to introduce a new program to help reduce the number of repeat transports to local emergency rooms: the Community Resource Paramedic program. Finally, we increased staffing in both police and fire departments to maintain response times.
•In transportation, we adopted a 20-year improvement plan to help smooth congestion and provide safety. This plan was developed by overlaying where growth and development will occur, targeting congestion and safety issues, and folding in our Complete Streets plan to connect neighborhoods with different types of transportation. We also designed projects such as new roundabouts at 77th Avenue and 204th Street and Highway 530 and Smokey Point Blvd, which are anticipated to be constructed in 2020.
•Fiscal management continued to be a focus. Our updated financial policies and continued growth in reserves resulted in a bond rating upgrade. The city
also paid off equipment debt six years early, resulting in a savings of approximately $100,000. Our utility rates have not increased for seven years, and the city did not increase property tax rates for 2020. Our staff pursued grants for planning, construction of streets and other infrastructure, and increased staffing. For the third year in a row, the city received a clean audit.
•The city also invested in curbside appeal. The terraces at Terrace Park received a facelift. The Splash Pad at Haller Park opened, along with new concessions. We implemented a new online shelter reservation system for Haller Park and Hadley Hall to make it easier for residents to reserve city facilities. The city updated Merchants Parking lot with new storm drainage, pavement and parking markings. The Community Garden was relocated to the corner of 3rd Street and French Avenue, with an expanded space for residents and students.
•In partnership with the Arlington Arts Council, we saw new public art installed. The City Council adopted a more-consistent stream of funding for the acquisition and maintenance of public art. Beautification projects were completed, including new lighting on the trees on Olympic Avenue and the installation of artistic bike racks created by Arlington High School students. Finally, our staff constructed a temporary lot for parking at the library.
As we look to the New Year, our staff is busy preparing the plans, projects and programs that will be accomplished in 2020 and beyond. I hope you will take the time to participate in local government as we continue planning our city’s future. As long as we can continue planning ahead with our residents and businesses, we can ensure that we will build the best city possible for Arlington.
Barb Tolbert is the mayor of Arlington, which has a monthly column in this newspaper.