Continued maintenance and improvement of city streets top the list of priorities for the City of O’Fallon in 2012.
Mayor Bill Hennessy took a look back at city accomplishments in 2011 and shared plans for this year’s upcoming projects during his State of the City Address on Friday morning.
“One of my goals when I took office was to see this city invest in our infrastructure and ensure that O’Fallon is a city that remains strong in the future,” he said. “We saw many developments along these lines last year.”
The city replaced more than $1 million worth of concrete slabs in O’Fallon subdivisions in 2011 and has $1 million budgeted in 2012 for slab repair and asphalt overlay.
But Hennessy said this just isn’t enough and he encourages residents to shop O’Fallon or “Keep it in the O,” so their tax dollars, which help pay for streets and repairs, can support their hometown.
The mayor added there is still much work to be done to make all O’Fallon roadways safe.
“We want to make sure when you’re driving through a subdivision, you’re not dodging potholes,” he said.
During his speech, the mayor also said city staff will begin work on several major improvements along Bryan, Veterans Memorial Parkway, West Terra and Mexico roads.
Six road projects planned for this year include improving turn lanes, upgrading traffic light signals, adding crosswalks and extending sidewalks to improve traffic flow and road safety.
The project is planned for early 2013 and will connect the end of Route 364 Phase 2 at Mid Rivers Mall Drive and Route 94 out to the interchange of Route N and I-64.
“This new road is crucial to both the city and county, and we will do everything we can to make sure it meets the needs of our residents both today and for generations to come,” Hennessy said.
Other Projects, Priorities For 2012
In 2012, the city will continue to focus on advancing technology to improve communication with residents.
Last year, the city launched the Citizens First program, which allows residents to submit questions or concerns and track the status of their submissions.
This year, the city will debut a redesigned website, incorporating more videos and user-friendly navigation tools.
Hennessy said other projects for 2012 include installing a county-wide radio system at the O’Fallon Police Station. The system would let O'Fallon police connect with neighboring police stations.
The mayor said taking a close look at the future of Civic Hall is also a priority.
Civic Hall was closed in November after a routine inspection found the building’s roof and support beams to be in poor shape.
Hennessy said city staff is in the preliminary stages of evaluating the building, and he hopes to have a better idea of how they will proceed at the end of January.
Preserving O’Fallon Family, History
The mayor said 2012 is also a year to celebrate O’Fallon history and commitment to family.
In observation of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the O’Fallon Community Foundation is working to rebuild Jacob Zumwalt’s Fort in Fort Zumwalt Park.
During the war, O’Fallon’s Fort Zumwalt Park served as a settlers’ fort. Hennessy said the fort is expected to open for tours in Summer 2012.
“I encourage all of you to visit Fort Zumwalt and learn about this unique part of our city’s history,” he said.
The mayor also took time in his speech, to encourage residents to make time for family this year.
“Plan one night a week when your family puts aside the pressure of the outside world to stay in, grill a meal out on the patio and play games or watch movies well into the night," Hennessy said. “Pledge to make your life better in 2012.”
A Look Back at 2011
The mayor highlighted several accolades O’Fallon earned this year including:
- O’Fallon named as one of America’s Best Places to Live by Relocate-America.com for the fifth straight year
- Maintaining rank as the second safest city in the country
- Sgt. Steve Landsness receiving the Medal of Valor for his efforts in saving the life of a woman who was drowning
- Sgt. Jill Buehrle named as the O'Fallon Police Department's first female Sergeant
- The opening of more than 170 new businesses
But the accomplishment Hennessy is most proud of was the opening of the all-inclusive Brendan's Playground in October.
"This project was my top priority when I was elected, and to see hundreds of children race in as Brendan cut the ribbon to open it last fall was one of the proudest moments of my career," he said Friday.
While numerous city staff and residents worked together to raise money and see Brendan's Playground spring to life in 2011, Mayor Hennessy said the playground isn't quite finished.
In 2012, the city will add a splash pad water feature, where children can regulate their body temperature and stay cool in the summer sun. Hennessy said a fundraiser will be held in March at the O'Fallon Elks Lodge to raise help the $100,000 needed to complete Brendan's Playground.