Mustang City Manager Timothy Rooney presented his state of the city address at the Mustang Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week. Excerpts are below.
When I get asked to provide a state of the city speech, I get excited to talk about what I believe our organization does well and those things we have planned for the future.
Let’s look at progress on ongoing projects the citizens of this community overwhelmingly approved in 2016 when the one penny sales tax was extended to 2030.
- Brittany’s Playground
This all-inclusive playground was opened in July 2017 in Wild Horse Park. Landscaping was added to this attraction after it was opened, and a fence will be added in the near future.
A neighboring development is the splash pad. Construction should begin in May.
- Town Center expansion
The current expansion – which includes additional gym space, cardio area, classrooms, enlarged aerobics area and a parking lot for senior citizens only – cannot be any closer to being completed. The ribbon-cutting is Thursday.
- Wastewater plant expansion
This project expands the treatment capacity of the plant itself, but what makes this project something to get excited about is its reuse component.
Through this feature, the City of Mustang will have the ability to produce water to irrigate the athletic fields in Wild Horse Park.
This lessens the annual water burden (and cost to the taxpayers) on the largest user of water in Mustang – the City of Mustang.
- Sara Road
This project involves converting Sara Road to a four-lane road with five-lane interchanges between State Highway 152 and SW 59th Street.
The city of Mustang is currently in the process of purchasing right-of-way along our portion of the project.
Half of the cost of the construction of this project is shared with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
- Southwest 89th St.
Improvements from State Highway 4 to Mustang Road not only include that portion of SW 89th Street, but also that portion of Mustang Road south of the railroad tracks to SW 89th Street, creating a five-lane intersection at SW 89th and Mustang Road, as well as a new five-lane signalized intersection at SW 89th Street and SH 4. Construction should begin soon.
Animal shelter – Design on a new animal shelter has been completed, and we are about to open requests for qualifications from construction management firms for this project.
This project should also be completed next year.
The current facility is antiquated and was not able to be expanded, and our efforts are focused on constructing an animal control facility that will have capability and capacity to serve this community for a long time in the future.
- Fire substation/EOC
Land was secured for this project in 2017, and requests for qualifications for the design of this facility will be moving forward within the next 30 days.
Upon completion, this facility will serve both as a substation for response to fire emergencies during key times of the day as well as provide a reinforced emergency operations center.
- Mustang Market Place
The design for this facility, will begin later this year.
The market place will host the farmers’ market as well as additional events – both private and public.
- Emergency Dispatch
Upgrades to the emergency dispatch system literally brought Mustang out of the dark ages by upgrading not only dispatch capabilities, but also officer reporting capabilities, transparency to the public regarding police operations and historical information that can be shared on an easier and more accessible platform with other law enforcement agencies and emergency responders.
The heart of the new system is the computer-aided dispatch software, which tracks all units in the field and pinpoints 911 calls.
The public portal for this system is reached through any internet web browser.
Dylan Wilson is the absolute genius behind all of this. We never would have been successful migrating from paper to computer without his leadership.
- Other updates
Let me update you on some of the other items different departments and staff have been tackling over the last year. I am blessed with a great staff, and they are addressing some amazing opportunities as we move forward in 2019.
- Fire Department
Fire Chief Craig Carruth and his team went through the tedious process of purchasing a new ladder truck that will replace our existing apparatus that is more than 27 years old and only reaches 65 feet.
The new truck will reach 100 feet and is heavy duty.
Chief Carruth’s team successfully secured a SAFER grant, which offsets the cost of ramping up personnel in preparation of the new substation.
This grant allowed us to hire three additional firefighters with the cost for these people being offset by a grant over a three-year period – 75 percent in year one and year two and 35 percent in year three.
- Community Development
After getting the Imagine Mustang Comprehensive Plan adopted late in 2017, residential growth in Mustang began to reach new heights.
In 2018, building permits in Mustang as nearly doubled in 2018 as compared to 2017 and more than three times the amount issued in 2016.
Janet Watts and her team brought e-billing for utility bills to reality last year, and they continue to look for ways in which to streamline processes that effect both internal and external customers.
Watts and Assistant City Manager Justin Battles, along with Dennis Merrill of Inframark, recently negotiated an agreement with Oklahoma City that will serve the City of Mustang and its water customers for many years to come.
Just last month, Mustang entered into a 30-year agreement with Oklahoma City to purchase water at a service availability rate that allows Mustang to purchase over 20 million gallons per month at the new base rate charge, which is currently $2.22 per 1,000 gallons, as opposed to what we previously paid which was $5.73 per 1,000 gallons.
- Police Department
The Police Department and Mustang Public Schools kept their commitment to the safety of our students and increased the number of school resource officers this. Camie McNeil is our newest lieutenant in the Police Department and is also our new school resource supervisor. She is one of our former officers of the year and a 24-year veteran of the department.
- Parks and Recreation
Our Parks and Recreation Department participates in so much already that I feel if I leave anything out, I am doing a disservice to their team.
So much of what they do in addition to regularly scheduled league play involves connecting great volunteers.
These include things like the farmer’s market and Community Garden and the Parks Foundation.
Over the past year, the department has implemented HYPE (Helping Your Park Environment).
We invite residents who live near one of our neighborhood parks to participate in a survey, and then the department plans improvements.
The first of the parks to go through this process was Elliot Park in Canadian Estates. Improvements changed the walking trail around the pond from gravel to concrete andadded two fountains to the pond.
We also added a spillway to the pond, a new play structure and decorative lighting on the walking trail.
If I have said it once, I have said it literally a hundred times … I receive more compliments on our library and their programs more than anything else that we do.
Whether it’s the STEM groups, the LEGO group, the escape rooms, the TEEN activities, the family nights out, the various different story times, and even Write Nite, which recently published their first anthology entitled “Prompted,” they really have something for everyone.
This year, the library has implemented Art in the Library – where a local artist’s work is featured within the education room each month.
Two staff members became certified in a program that is dear to me. They now have two Opportunities Industrialization Center of Oklahoma County trained tutors to teach adult learners how to read.
We all tend to overlook that we have adults within our community who still cannot read but have a passion to learn to do so.
- Mustang’s challenges
Our biggest challenge and the challenge of Mustang Public Schools is a result of growth.
Growth places all kinds of direct and indirect pressures on an organization. Pressures to add more programs to a diversifying citizenry.
Pressures to add more space to add those programs. Pressures to keep crime in check, expand retail opportunities, maintain property values and do more with less.
That being said, the challenges that accompany growth are a far better alternative than the challenges that face a dying community.
Therein lies the key to all of this: How to make sure Mustang remains the bright spot, the sexy suburb, if you will.
It is imperative that we continue to reinvest in our road network, our water delivery system, our sanitary sewer collection system, our emergency services, our library and our parks so our families encounter a community they that want to live in.