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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Thursday, May 1, 2008
2008 STATE OF CITY: LR MAYOR’S FOCUS: PUBLIC SAFETY, PEOPLE, PROPERTY, PARKS
Mayor Mark Stodola Outlines Priorities, Assesses Progress in 2008 State of City Address
(Thursday, May 1, 2008) – “The City of Little Rock has had many successes, but we have many challenges yet ahead,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola today in his 2008 State of the City Address. “Our focus will be on Public Safety, People, Property, and Parks.”
Stodola delivered his address at the Willie L. Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center. He noted that facility had served as a seat of citizen involvement for several years. “Citizen involvement has been key in our past successes and will be key as we work to accomplish these goals,” the Mayor stated. “When City Hall works with the citizens of Little Rock as partners, there is no question that Little Rock will become the next Great American city in the South.”
• In 2007, the City of Little Rock saw a 10.6 percent reduction in violent crime as reported to the FBI.
• During the past year, Little Rock hired 44 new police officers and now has more officers on the streets than any time since 2003.
• The Community Punishment Worker Program was expanded and 4,180 individuals contributed over 39,000 hours of community service.
• The Little Rock Police Department was re-accredited from the Commission on the Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in March 2007 and was awarded Flagship status, which is a designation afforded to only premier law enforcement agencies and held out as a model that other agencies should seek when desiring accreditation
• A Mid-Town Police Substation will be constructed at 12th and Cedar Streets
• During 2007, we opened a state-of-the-art Fire Training Academy and have acquired over 40 thermal-imaging cameras which have been placed in service on every Fire Department apparatus.
• Most importantly, The Criminal Abatement Program continues to receive national recognition for its success in shutting down the scourge of nuisance properties where repeat criminal activities have led to the degradation of neighborhoods. In 2007, over 16 properties were referred to the Program for action to be taken against them.
• Through the 3-1-1 Program, the City received 79,470 calls for service which is an average of 313 calls per work day.
• The economic development projects landed by this team have accounted for over 3,000 jobs with a payroll of nearly $100,000,000 and capital investment through construction of $400,000,000, which is more than any previous year ever on record.
• On June 30, Welspun revealed its first phase plans to build a $100,000,000 plant to produce tubular steel pipes for use in the oil and gas industry.
• A few weeks later that record was broken when LMGlasfiber, a Danish company, announced plans to build a $150,000,000 facility and employ over 1,100 people, manufacturing blades for wind energies, which also includes the location of their North American headquarters here in Little Rock.
• Following on the heels of this announcement, Dessault Falcon Jet, our largest existing manufacturing employer, continued to set records with its employment by announcing two expansions totaling over 350 jobs and over $30,000,000 in new capital investments.
• This was followed by Sage 5 Foods with a $20,000,000 plant location and 200 new jobs, and AT&T’s 175 internet support jobs and a $4,000,000 new payroll. • The City of Little Rock and its commissions were directly involved in providing not only leadership and support, but also financial contributions to make these things happen.
• During 2007, we have initiated renewed dialogue and cooperation with the Little Rock School District on developing more afterschool-based programs located at the schools.
• The Summer Jobs Alliance Program, a partnership with the private sector and the Chamber of Commerce, provides jobs to over 400 young people this summer, giving them a valuable job and also instilling in them a sense of responsibility and the importance of education in obtaining a good job all measures of success for their future.
• A part of this program this past year is the Youth Conservation Corps, a collaborative effort between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Audubon Arkansas, and our City Parks Department. It employed 14 teenagers who were responsible for removing tons of floatable trash that had washed into the Fourche Bottoms from West Little Rock. They also built two canoe portage points, one at Benny Craig Park and one at Interstate Park.
Housing and Neighborhoods
• The Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center has been an institutional magnet to build around and recreate neighborhood stability. The City needs several institutional magnets like this throughout the Inner City, particularly South of I-630.
• Some of those potential magnets include Philander Smith College, the Dunbar Recreation Center and School, Arkansas Baptist College, Central High School, the Hinton Resource Center, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, UAMS, UALR and the like.
• The Mayor intends to propose to the City Board of Directors a vehicle for creating a “revolving fund” which will allow the City to acquire various properties so that they can be made available to the Land Bank Commission for redevelopment, both to non-profit organizations and individuals who wish to reinvest in these important neighborhoods and in the architectural fabric of our community.
Parks & Zoo
• The Mayor will propose to the Board of Directors the refunding of our existing 1998 Parks Revenue Bonds to generate a new additional capital to put into improving our Parks.
• This would include a substantial amount of money to implement an action plan for improvements to War Memorial Park.
• It would also include additional funds that were committed and promised to the Zoo, money for the rehabilitation of the Rebsamen Tennis Center which used to be one of the finest tennis centers in the Southwest, and for the acquisition of additional park land for expansion of more recreational activities.
• In 2007, the “Over the Jumps” Carousel was restored and opened at the Zoo; it has been a great magnet attracting literally thousands of people back to the
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
• The City is excited to see that progress is being made on the redevelopment of the old University Mall site into Park Avenue – a mixed use project involving retail, residential and offices. It is definitely a wonderful improvement to Mid-town, thanks to the hard work and efforts of our Mid-town Advisory Committee who has provided the design overlay guidelines used in recognizing the multi-use nature of this district.
• Likewise, we are seeing a resurgence of planning and collaboration along the 12th Street Corridor which brings together not only the Mid-town Advisory Committee but the War Memorial Park committees, as well as the 12th Street Advisory Committee.
• The Mayor has asked the Parks & Recreation Department to designate 12th Street as a bicycle corridor and we will soon be striping and identifying 12th Street for bicycle transportation.
• The City has embarked on a minority assistance program for the construction industry and are continuing this process with other minority-owned businesses.
• Despite the setbacks in 2007, the Mayor is committed to finding a permanent home for a Homeless Day Shelter.
• With the creation of the Land Bank Commission, the City has a new tool for neighborhood revitalization.
“I also intend to talk straight and honestly to our citizens about how tight our revenues sources are and let them know that while we can have all the wonderful plans in the world, major improvements in our City will require finding additional revenues – something we have not had over the last few years,” said the Mayor.
This Board of Directors as your leadership team, working together, can accomplish all of these things. If we work together and look out for each other, when we ask the people of this City to hold hands with us as partners in this endeavor, there is no question Little Rock will become the next Great American city in the South.