April 18, 2017 > Navigating through trying times
Navigating through trying times
By William Marshak
In his sixth State of the City address on April 13, 2017, following a performance by the Newark Memorial High School Advanced Choir and introduction by Newark Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Valerie Boyle , Newark Mayor Alan Nagy was upbeat, acknowledging the support of family, staff and the community during Òtrying times.Ó Reporting a balanced budget and a local economy that is strengthening, the mayor said that Newark is seeing increases in major revenue sources Ð sales, property and transient occupancy (hotel) taxes. Revenue from development and building permit fees are also increasing.
Inserting a note of caution, Mayor Nagy referred to the recent recession and lessons learned during lean years. Conservative budget practices including hiring restraint were mentioned along with an eye toward State and Federal budgets with associated unfunded mandates and rising employer pension costs. The CityÕs pension contributions currently account for approximately 13 percent of NewarkÕs operating costs and future contributions are expected to increase. A City policy to direct future budget surpluses toward this liability will soften the blow but is not a total solution.
Directing his attention toward development, Mayor Nagy pointed to an Òunprecedented surge of residential and commercial construction activity.Ó Noting housing developments, he highlighted the 164 townhome and single family detached homes, Shade and Canopy project by Trumark Homes, as one of the first housing developments in Newark in over a decade. The mayor also commented on Equinox, Cedar Lane, Prima, Casa Bella, Classics at Cedar Park and Sanctuary projects that are selling briskly or already sold out. In the Dumbarton Transit Oriented Development area, homes under construction include Bayshores, Gateway Station West, Lighthouse and Glass Bay with a variety of townhomes and single-family detached homes. A 75-unit senior housing apartment complex is also in the works.
Commercial development at NewPark Mall is continuing at a brisk pace. AMC-IMAX is thriving and new restaurants are opening to invigorate the scene. Pieology Pizzaria, AnikiÕs Express (sushi and poke), JackÕs Restaurant and Bar, JohnÕs Incredible Pizza and Flight Wine Bar & Cafe are open or close to it. Surrounding the Mall, the ÒGreater NewPark AreaÓ will feature two new hotels and a restaurant. At the former RaleyÕs location, Sprouts Farmers Market is expected to open by June.
Commercial/Industrial growth continues too. Mission Linen Supply will open a new industrial laundry facility and DeVry University will relocate from its Fremont campus to Newark. SAS Automotive Systems is expected to bring advanced manufacturing jobs and the 105-acre Pacific Research Center will be home to high-tech and bio-tech firms including Protagonist Therapeutics and InVisage.
The City has been active, developing a Citywide Parks Master Plan and Newark Pedestrian Bicycle Master Plan to assist residents. These will bolster a vision of connectivity and safety while encouraging healthy lifestyles through park enhancements, hiking/biking trails and pathways. The largest city project, approved by voters through a one-half cent sales tax, is construction of a new Civic Center including library, police operations center and administration building. Envisioned as LEED certified, the new buildings and meeting spaces will be built on the site of current facilities. Construction is anticipated to begin Summer 2018.
Finally, Mayor Nagy spoke about Newark as a ÒWelcoming CityÓ that prides itself on diversity and inclusion for all. Recognizing the concern of many individuals in the City, he stated that the city council reaffirmed in February 2017 that Newark Òremains committed to building an inclusive community that welcomes immigrants and newcomers from all places and encourages participation in civic, cultural, and economic life.Ó On the topic of police interaction with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the mayor said, ÒÉ our Police Department does not actively participate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws which are under the jurisdiction of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Like most other cities in California, our Police Department focuses its time and resources on responding to and investigating high-priority crimes in our community. We believe that this is the best approach to develop and strengthen community trust and encourage law-abiding individuals to report crimes and work proactively with our police department.Ó
In his closing remarks, Mayor Nagy offered his reflection on the State of the City saying, ÒWe pride ourselves in offering the best in quality of life for our citizens whether it is through public safety, inclusion, recreation, housing, or programs and services; we want only the best for Newark.Ó
A complete transcript of Mayor NagyÕs State of the City address can be found at: www.ci.newark.ca.us