Mayor Calvin addresses State of the city
WILLMAR -- In his annual State of the City address Tuesday, Mayor Marv Calvin highlighted the success and challenges Willmar faced in 2016 and what is ahead for 2017.
WILLMAR - In his annual State of the City address Tuesday, Mayor Marv Calvin highlighted the success and challenges Willmar faced in 2016 and what is ahead for 2017.
"I reflect back over this past year as mayor and realize the city has had a progressive year," Calvin said.
In the first part of his speech, Calvin focused on new construction, economic development and projects taking place in the city's parks.
There were 37 new single-family homes built in Willmar last year, and Calvin sees that as a step in the right direction.
Yet "as our Housing Task Force Study has shown, the city of Willmar has a deficit in every level of housing," Calvin said.
There was development and construction throughout Willmar last year. There were significant commercial and government building projects as well, including the new elementary school along with projects at the high school and middle school; Dooley's Petroleum; Mattress Firm and Hobby Lobby.
"The city saw an increase of $60 million in total construction valuation," Calvin said.
In other economic development progress, the city finally achieved the last of the land release of the old airport and had the Willmar Industrial Park designated shovel-ready by the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
"We anticipate strong interest in our industrial park in 2017," Calvin said.
Robbins Island saw an increased wave of interest in projects and events. This includes the Willmar Destination Playground, which raised nearly 75 percent of the funds needed and began site preparation for the playground build in May.
"This will allow families in our area to use the 19,000-square-foot playground and enjoy Robbins Island even more," Calvin said.
Robbins Island was also designated a regional park and was recommended to receive a $606,000 state grant to be used on other projects, including a shelter and boat house.
"These projects will provide additional public access to Robbins Island and use should increase substantially in future years," Calvin said.
Calvin acknowledged the city's public safety agencies for the work they did in 2016, including the cleanup during and after the floods in August.
"Our staff should be commended for a job well done and our recovery efforts are still underway," Calvin said.
The mayor did touch on some of the challenges the city faced in the past year, including the sudden resignation of City Administrator Larry Kruse and the transition after the county took over the city's assessing duties in a merger of the departments.
"These adjustments have been difficult for staff, and continued support from the council and citizens has been appreciated as City Hall moves through this difficult process," Calvin said.
Calvin said he looks forward to positive actions at the council level, following last week's council retreat, in addition to working with the city's intergovernmental partners on projects going forward.
"Willmar has many positive things happening and I urge each of you citizens to get on board and get involved to make it a true regional center for central Minnesota," Calvin said.