Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross answered the following questions about progress in the city in 2010 and what’s ahead for 2011.
What specific progress has the city made in 2010 that makes you hopeful for 2011?
First and foremost the Wall That Heals was a huge success this past fall, setting the standard for events like this and resulting in a national video highlighting the Blue Springs community. I am very proud of our collective accomplishments over the past year. In 2010, the City Council worked with RED Development in order to facilitate new retail stores opening in Blue Springs including Gordmans, Kohl’s, Maurices, Petco, Staples and Oliver Garden, to name a few. Michael’s just recently opened, and several other stores have been announced for 2011 that will add to the already impressive retail lineup. Despite many challenges in the retail markets, Adams Dairy Landing is doing well, and our residents have many additional shopping opportunities long desired for our community.
In 2010 we opened the city’s first recycling drop-off center, disc golf park, advanced plans to help meet our long-term public safety needs, implemented a first-time home buyer’s program, funded the third year of our street overlay program and continue to implement bond projects approved by voters in August 2008. Our Citizen Survey scores continue to increase in many categories; reaffirming that elected officials and staff are in tune with local issues and citizen priorities.
What are the three projects you and the city are committed to most for 2011? Please be as specific as possible.
Our number one priority in 2011 is the successful passage of a proposed sales tax increase on April 5. This proposed sales tax increase of a half cent was carefully evaluated by the Citizen Public Safety Advisory Board. It will be dedicated to critical public safety needs for the Blue Springs Police Department, including a federally mandated radio system upgrade, additional police officers and public safety personnel, and much needed facility upgrades.
Secondly, we will continue to implement the infrastructure projects approved by voters in August 2008. Construction on the Colbern Road/Highway 7 intersection will begin in the spring of 2011, the expansion to the Sni-A-Bar sewer plant will be completed in late 2011, and work on Woods Chapel improvements will continue over the next few years.
Thirdly, we will continue to work with RED development and do all we can to help facilitate and encourage the completion of the new retail shops at Adams Dairy Landing.
News has died down a little concerning the Missouri Innovation Park. How is that project coming along, and is there any new legislation being put forward?
The partnership between the city, the Blue Springs EDC and MU was announced in December 2008. Since then, the nation has been faced with a terrible recession, and private funding for new and expanding business opportunities has become very difficult to obtain. Despite these economic challenges, we remain optimistic that the Missouri Innovation Park represents the right economic development strategy for the future of Blue Springs. We continue to position ourselves for when the economy improves and business deals become more feasible by master planning the properties included in the MIP, developing plans to address important infrastructure needs in the park, and leveraging partnerships in order to generate regional and national interest in the MIP. Although legislative efforts over the past two years in Jefferson City have not produced the outcome we had hoped for, we are hopeful that the Missouri Legislature (especially our local delegation), will support economic development legislation and do all they can to facilitate an environment that will help create jobs and new commerce in Blue Springs.
Page 2 of 2 - Main Street appears to have more activity. What is the city doing to reinvigorate that area and its surrounding downtown district?
For a long time, the City Council has desired to invest more in our downtown, however, limited resources and competing priorities in other areas of the city has delayed progress until recently. Fortunately, the City Council has taken advantage of federal CDBG funds made available to the city. Through the annual capital improvements program, the city has allocated CDBG funding for sidewalk improvements, additional street lights, and street improvements at various intersections along Main Street. The improvements have enhanced safety and security as well as the visual appearance of Main Street and other older areas of our city. We are excited to see new businesses along Main Street doing well and will continue to allocate resources needed for this important part of our city.
Can you give us any hints about upcoming projects in the city?
As indicated earlier, the creation of new jobs will continue to be a priority in 2011 along with many other community initiatives such as “March with the Mayor,” “Let’s Move,” “Blue Springs Fit and Stand Up” that will promote and encourage healthy life styles and wellness for our residents.