Mayor: State of the city is excellent
Record Managing Editor
A new hospital, conference center, better roads and a new senior center are among the things on Madison Mayor Jan Wells' wish list for 2003.
In her second state of the city address since being elected mayor in 2003, Mayor Wells said 2002 was a prosperous year for Madison. The mayor delivered her address to a crowd of city leaders, business representatives and residents at City Hall.
"I am pleased to assure you that the state of our city is excellent. Our future is bright and it's a new day in Madison. Just imagine the possibilities."
Wells said Madison has been the definition of growth during the past 20 years, noting that Madison's population now stands at more than 33,000 residents. The mayor noted that the Madison City Council adopted a $37 million annual budget and Madison's fund balance rose by 16.5 percent. While noting the successes of the city in 2002, Mayor Wells outlined several initiatives under way for the city in 2003.
"This month, I will convene the second growth commission to discuss how Madison should grow. Do we want growth beyond our existing borders? If so, then what are the infrastructure needs and how do we fund it," Wells said. "What are the ramifications and long-range effects of a no-growth policy?"
The mayor said she plans to assemble a group of staff and local business advisors to develop affordable incentive packages and offer them to the city council for approval.
"We must define our capabilities before we can negotiate with new business prospects," Wells said. "We are faced with many exciting possibilities and we have a lot of bright, innovative, dedicated individuals willing to help."
Wells said she plans to spend more time with our legislators this year to seek funding for road improvement projects such as the I-565 and County Line Road interchange and the extension of Balch Road.
"The city council approved funding for a lobbyist to represent Madison in Montgomery and Washington and I expect to take advantage of this expertise to get our fair share of federal and state highway funding," Wells said. "Roads are the foundation that supports our growth because they determine where and how our economic development will occur."
Another issue high on the mayor's list for 2003 is getting a full service hospital built in Madison. Wells said in talking with Gov. Bob Riley, he said he would support a competitive format for Madison's hospital. The governor will be appointing a new State Health Coordinating Council soon who will determine if an adjustment to the State Health Plan will be made to bring additional hospital beds to Madison County.
The mayor said she would like to see a community conference center in Madison, and new or expanded senior center.
"In order for Madison to realize its full potential, patience and careful planning is essential," Wells said. "We will continue to expand our retail base so that the revenue streams needed to fund infrastructure improvements will be strong to support future growth. I plan to conduct a city-wide survey during the second quarter of this year and will ask residents what they'd like to see in Madison's future."
The mayor said a downtown redevelopment plan for Madison will present new opportunities for public and private partnerships.
"Historic downtown Madison has been rediscovered and is becoming a unique draw for local entrepreneurs with a sense of adventure," Wells said. "Watching downtown come to life again has been exhilarating."
Wells said 2002 was a busy year for Madison and 2003 will not be any different.
"There is serious work to be done and serious consequences for not doing it," Wells said. "I pledge our collective abilities and plain hard word to ensure that Madison continues to thrive."