Smart Planning a Priority

This week, we received news that our Town continues to grow at the fastest rate in the region, and, in fact, has received 41 percent more new home permits as of this November compared to this time last year.

We continue to be growing strong as a destination for new families, which is why I want to focus this update on our Infrastructure Strategic Initiative.  This strategic initiative goes to the heart of our history as a community that has made forward-thinking and smart planning a priority.  That focus allowed our Town to stay ahead of the needs of a community that during the prior decade was one of the fastest growing in the nation, as we also created a beautiful and recognized character that we all now enjoy.  Infrastructure, which includes the focus on green and sustainable practices, remains a key priority as we look to build out the final third of our community and maintain our current quality.

Intersection Master Plan

Our staff recently launched the Intersection and Circulation Improvement Master Plan, which is an important strategic effort that will use our traffic retiming modeling software to prioritize our future intersection needs. Using this software, we will review the traffic flow, any changes in flow, safety factors and the General Plan for upcoming and real changes in use. What that means, is that you can expect your intersections to be maintained, and upgraded, as needs arise based on real-time data that has a direct impact on your lifestyle and the safety in intersections. This is an important project that you will see continue on a five-year basis, and will include a look ahead to the next year, as well as a look out to 20 years. The software we are using for this master plan was funded largely by grant money, and was originally used in a traffic retiming project that we completed earlier this year, and which has dramatically improved our traffic flow.

Green Initiatives

Gilbert’s Strategic Initiative which promotes a strong infrastructure makes clear that we also want to focus on green, sustainable practices. That is why I wanted to highlight a few big projects that stand out, and have even received national attention.

Gilbert is building Fire Station 10, which will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building in Gilbert.  That is a big step for us, and demonstrates our commitment to sustainability.  This project takes creative steps including using solar panels that will reduce utility consumption by 40 percent, as parking lot shade structures.  The building will be complete next summer, and was largely funded from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.  Its primary function is to maintain our important life-saving response times, which goes to our Livability Strategic Initiative.  As we build, we remain committed to sustainability, and hope to set an example by committing to recycling at least 95 percent of all the products that would normally be waste on a construction site – including concrete, metal and wood that is now still used.  We will keep you posted as this structure, near Guadalupe and McQueen roads, breaks new ground in our Town.

The Town was visited in November by elected officials from across the nation, who toured the Neely Wastewater Reclamation Facility Solar Power System as part of a National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities mobile workshop tour featuring sustainable infrastructure and forward-thinking solutions. Through the use of more than 8,000 photovoltaic tracking solar panels installed above water recharge beds at the facility, this solar power system will off-set more than 86 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the life of the system and will generate over 4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually. The energy generated will offset approximately 40 percent of the Neely Wastewater Plant’s electrical power needs, and the agreement locks in predictable utility costs for the next 20 years, for an estimated $2 million in savings. Gilbert is dedicated to continuing to seek green initiatives such as this nationally recognized model, which provides cost-savings thanks to a smart public-private partnership involving SPG Solar, Arizona Public Service, Integrys and Severn Trent. These projects also maintain our commitment to be good stewards of the environment.

Partnerships, like that at Neely, are an important piece to successful and smart management of a community.  Another partnership currently underway in the Town is our grease drive with REV Biodiesel, a Gilbert company that is the largest biodiesel producer in Arizona.  We have partnered to collect grease at all of our fire stations, which REV Biodiesel has the capacity to manufacture into biodiesel.  We also collect cooking grease year-round at our Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, so please help us turn your cooking grease into a healthy, environmental friendly commodity.

Fireworks on New Year’s Eve and Day

As we prepare to celebrate our New Year, it will be the second holiday since Gilbert allowed some forms of ‘fireworks’ on the days of December 31 & January 1. Fireworks allowed in Town on these days, on private property with the property owner’s permission, include hand-held sparklers, snakes, wheels and pinwheels.

Fireworks are not allowed in public parks, for safety reasons. We are very fortunate to be able to celebrate in this traditional manner in our community, so let’s enjoy the provisions we do have and come together to make sure we are doing so in a safe and considerate manner, something that should come easy in a community know for its family-friendly nature.

Please don’t try to use fireworks that are not legal. Fireworks that are unsafe and are not legal at any time include bottle rockets, fire crackers, roman candles and M-80s, or any others that rise into the air and explode. The user of fireworks are liable for any damages they cause.

Happy New Year

That takes me to the meaning behind this upcoming holiday itself. This year has been one of new starts for the Town of Gilbert, as we move in a positive new direction, strategically focused on our goal of being a premier community in the nation, and growing our recognition as efficient, low cost and high quality. I am very grateful for this community, including both the Town residents and the Town staff. I thank you for your engagement and support of the Town. We could not operate as we should without an informed and interested community.

Due to the holidays, Friday, January 6 will be our next Manager’s Update. In the meantime, I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.

~ Patrick Banger, Town Manager

Gilbert Celebrates New Gains

This week, Gilbert staff gained another walking distance lunch spot when BoomBozz opened its doors in Gilbert Town Square at Gilbert and Warner roads.

We welcome the new business, as we do all of our businesses, who all play a large role in our success as a community. BoomBozz is just one of many positive gains we are seeing in Gilbert today.

I have promised to focus on our Strategic Initiatives in my updates, and this update is featuring the economic development of today, as we look ahead to a bright boom.  Our burgeoning medical industry is a key component to our future build out success, but another key component to that success, as well as our quality of life, is the success of our small business, retail and our tourism economy.

That is why I wanted to share with you three great updates as we grow as a community, and strengthen.

The first is the plan by Marriot to open our sixth hotel near the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. Marriot is working closely with the center to support the outpatient guests at this facility, which is the only treatment center of its kind in the entire western United States. This symbiotic relationship demonstrates just how big an impact Banner MD Anderson, which opened in September at Higley Road and the U.S. 60, is having on our community, and will continue to have. They are an enormous economic engine that will continue to attract new opportunities, and support our economy, while also supporting our ability to provide our families with world-class health care.

We also greet Marriot as they plan their future construction, and provide new tourism opportunities for our community. We certainly have the unique destination spots, from shopping centers and shops to restaurants and recreation, to host guests who we also welcome.

Our town will also be among the first to gain a new kind of shopping place, as WinCo Foods prepares to build off the Santan Loop 202 Freeway, at Pecos Road and Market Street. The grocery store lauds the fact that it is employee-owned and promises discount prices on healthy food.

I can’t give an update on some of the upcoming action in our economy without mentioning the wonderful new additions to our downtown Heritage District. To name two, Art Intersection offers an authentic art gallery of the caliber that deserves note, and a visit, and we watch along with you as Postino’s Wine Bar makes progress on Gilbert Road with a planned opening by early Spring.

Of course, I can’t mention the medical industry without thanking those who have invested in our community, and who bring us honors on a regular basis by way of their talent and their will to cure, heal and care for all of our families. Mercy Gilbert Medical Center announced just this week yet another accolade among the many, as they received accreditation from the American College of Radiology for both Ultrasound, including vascular, and Computed Tomography, including cardiac. The facility is internationally regarded for its research on treating heart disease.

As I feature highlights from our economy, I should also point out that we continue to experience growth in new homes. This year to date we have received permits for more than 1,400 new homes. That is a 35 percent increase in growth compared to this time last year. Our community remains the fastest growing in the region. We are grateful to the builders who are bringing to our community new growth. That is a great sign, as people continue to want to live in the Town of Gilbert.

All of this healthy growth would not be possible if not for the hard working Gilbert Staff, and for the supportive community. Thank you.

Strategic Initiative: Smart Infrastructure

We also have some road improvements underway that I wanted you to know about, that support our effort to plan smart and provide a strong infrastructure. On Monday, Nov. 28, we began road improvements from Val Vista Drive to Recker Road and Higley Roads, between Riggs and Mews Road. That effort includes widening various sections to three lanes in each direction, raised medians, bike lanes, curb and gutter, sidewalk, landscaping and traffic signals. We expect this to be completed by the end of the year.

Another project we expect to see begin early next year will improve Higley and Baseline roads, including widening to three through lanes, a left turn lane and a bicycle lane in each direction, raised and landscaped medians, right turn lanes where needed, and water and sewer lines. Our staff will do their best to communicate and make the progress as smooth as possible as we improve these roadways to support our future travel.

Strategic Initiative: Livability

Lastly, it is important to me to highlight our Town staff’s commitment to this community. Our Gilbert Fire Department joined in on several holiday drives supported by our staff during this season, and drove 60 full Thanksgiving meals to families in our community. This was made possible thanks to the donations collected during Halloween fundraisers held internally.

Thank you for continuing to be interested and involved in the community.

~ Patrick Banger