When area mayors deliver their annual addresses describing the state of their cities, expectations are that people will hear about big things happening.
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams covered all that last Monday and concluded the momentum was stronger than ever and great days lie ahead.
But he also spoke of some of the areas of public life in the city that have their own value to the community beyond the high-profile projects and events.
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Last year, the mayor announced a new emphasis on addressing the experience of a tire falling into a pit in the street — something every motorist must have suffered, very likely more than once.
The plan was to get a hazardous pothole filled on the same day it was reported, with no more than a three-day turnaround for any of them.
A dedicated phone number was provided so people could call in and identify the location.
The results: About 7,300 of the troublesome and sometimes dangerous annoyances have been fixed, and that’s a record.
Soon to come is an app people can install on their mobile phones and tablets, on which any kind of problem can be photographed and reported on the spot directly to the city’s action center.
The response to demands to accelerate the pace of street construction and repair has also resulted in unprecedented action.
There are about 3,000 road miles of streets in the city. Some of them are in bad shape.
People have said the city should do more. The mayor then substantively described how their voices have been heard.
A record $100 million in accumulated street construction and repair work is underway, with more to come.
Between now and 2020 some $260 million will have funded the most aggressive improvement in the city’s history.
It works out to be about $34.5 million annually for new construction and $17 million in yearly repairs.
Then Williams talked about the formation of two new citizen committees: one consisting of 31 people who will make up a Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee and the other a 15-member Community Relations Council.
Their assignments are to move Arlington from “good to great” in the mission of addressing the community’s transit needs and involve the city’s many people of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds in issues that concern them.
He complimented the continued work of joint efforts between the city’s four school districts, Tarrant County College and UT-Arlington.
He congratulated the departments of police, fire and parks for their recent national recognitions ranking them all among the best in the country.
He revealed an update of the planning for a senior citizens center, with preliminary drawings and the location where such a project could take place.
Everybody knows that General Motors is doing a $1.4 billion plant expansion, that the country’s largest publicly owned home builder has its new national headquarters under construction, that the city is home to America’s Team and host to the National Game, that projects are underway in parts of the city that will soon provide new shopping, dining and entertainment venues, and that the city’s largest-ever mixed-use residential development is coming on Arlington’s northern boundary.
These are among the high-profile projects that led Money Magazine to declare Arlington the Best Large City in the South.
But not falling into potholes, driving on better streets and further engaging people in the process of making the city ever better may be the everyday things that further increase people’s pride in the place they call home.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.