Last Thursday I gave my very first State of the City address at the Provo City Library during the Mayoral Inauguration Ceremony. If you weren’t able to be there in person or you missed the Facebook live broadcast, you can catch it here!
Just press play to the videos below to watch the entire program (you won't want to miss the beautiful musical performances by Abby & Summer Lundberg and Mia Grace) and listen to my State of the City address. I've also summarized my speech into easy-to-read soundbites.
Provo's First Female Department Director
I am pleased to announce the creation of the Department of Customer Service and that the head of that department will be Provo’s first ever female department head, Karen Larsen.
Karen has provided dedicated service to our city for years and is well prepared to head this department as a member of my cabinet. Making customer service its own department aligns with my vision of ensuring that Provo City works for Provo residents and not the other way around. Karen will continue to be a big part of that. Thank you Karen for your important work.
Provo Has Become a City that Cannot be Hid
Every year, we host a freedom festival, “America's Freedom Festival,” and it is broadcast to over one million troops worldwide. They gather in their tents or mess halls and for just a while participate in this Provo tradition. This is just one way our good works are seen by others. It’s one way we have a worldwide reach.
We also have a university here. Tens of thousands come here each year from around the country and around the globe, they gain an education, then scatter back across the globe to hundreds of towns and cities to make a difference.
Sometimes people come from other cities just to see how Provo does things. For example, a delegation from West Virginia recently came to tour our amazing recreation center. It is a model to all the nation. It may be the only recreation center that doesn't take money from the city to run, but instead puts money into the city's general fund every year. Thank you to Scott Henderson and all who have been involved with that amazing gathering place for Provo.
We have major businesses, with global impact, such as NuSkin. And we have technology start-ups that are making themselves known far beyond Provo’s boundaries.
We have fabulous nonprofits like these three I’ll be highlighting in my blog: Communities that Care, Provo Reads and the Provo Girls Summit for girls ages 8-12, and I’ll also be giving support to the Utah Valley Metropolitan Ballet encouraging our community to get behind and support these organizations that make us unique.
Tens of thousands come here each year to be trained before going out to share a message of deepest importance to them, in huts and houses throughout the world, learning over fifty languages in our city of Provo.
And we have television shows and television stations originating from a new world-class broadcasting center at BYU, providing content that is seen by a worldwide audience daily.
I’m humbled to say that the state of this city is. . . INCREDIBLE! Through the efforts of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people like me, both yesterday and today, it shines uniquely on the world stage as a city that cannot be hid.
Provo is a national leader in volunteerism. Volunteer service is at the heart of what makes this place great! Let’s channel some of that volunteerism in a way that helps each of us, helps spruce up our community, and maybe even gets a little more attention on Provo’s volunteer efforts.
In the weeks leading up to the freedom festival, let’s all look for a way we can do a little something to spruce up this town. Maybe you’ll pick up litter on one of our great trails, or on the street in front of your house, or a vacant lot down the way. Or maybe you’ll find another way to volunteer. We will roll out more details in coming months, in coordination with our nonprofits, but please be ready to join us in this exciting initiative.
Over-Occupancy in Rental Dwellings
We have an area where amazing young single professionals have established a vibrant community for themselves. But parking and other issues have made neighbors there concerned. The city council has called for enforcement and enacted a new criminal ordinance to get at this.
I want to help those concerned neighbors. I understand their desire to have their streets less cluttered with parked cars. And they have a fair point that the law should be enforced and not just be words in a book.
But, my heart aches over the discord that has arisen on this. As I set out to enforce the law, I want us to go about it the Provo way, with compassion, kindness and respect for all.
I want to give plenty of advance notice to those who are going to lose their dwelling place or their contractual rights.
Importantly, I want it crystal clear that we value our young single professionals, that we want them here in Provo, and that we will do all we can to make this a welcoming place for you, as well as for families and students, even as we wrestle through this tough issue. It is my ultimate goal that you will know right here in Provo you have a long-term place of belonging, where you can continue to engage with and serve alongside your non-single neighbors. Please work with us, and continue to bring your talents and compassion and empathy to bear, as we try to ensure you have that place. I repeat, we want you here in Provo, for the long haul.
Waste Water Treatment
In other words, our sewers. I know no one wants to think about that. But we are at a crossroads. We have an aging treatment plant on the eastern part of Provo that sits higher than the vast developing west portion of our city. Our pipes aren’t big enough to hold the extra capacity that west side growth is adding. And new environmental regulations are making our existing plant difficult to support, if not obsolete.
If we move to a new treatment center in the west of Provo, gravity will be our friend and instead of having to pump sewage up, through dozens of pump stations, it will flow naturally down. (I know this is gross, but if you ignore your sewage problems, eventually they will come to your attention. No one wants backed up toilets, now or in 20 years.)
Seems like there’s an easy answer to this one right? Build a new treatment plant on the west side. Well, if it were free this would be very easy. It is not.
In coming months, the city council and I will be making a decision that will impact Provo for many decades, maybe forever. If the decision is made to build the plant in the west, know that we are doing it because we consider, providing for your basic needs our core priority. And because even though we hate to add a new expense, we would consider it irresponsible to ignore this issue and leave future city leaders to manage the damage.