Happy New Year to all! While it is cliché, time really does seem to fly. I can hardly believe my two oldest are entering their teenage years, and that my youngest is rapidly closing in on two years old.
I also think back to the beginning of our City in 2006, and as I am about to be sworn into my fourth term in office, I feel as though I have been running in an 11-year track meet. So much has happened not only within our exceptional city, but also in surrounding cities and counties as well. At times it can be tough to catch my breath.
I sometimes wish I could hit a stop button and hold everything in place exactly where it is today. However, despite the fact this is not at all possible, I do believe it is better to keep moving forward. Learn from the past, understand its impact on the present, and build on those important lessons to be in a better position to not only sustain the success we have achieved together, but to improve upon it together as well.
The City of Johns Creek would have never reached the heights it has without a vision and plan in place to responsibly move us forward. The schools within our city are some of the most awarded in the state, and we are consistently ranked as not only the safest city in Georgia, but also among the safest and most highly desired residential communities in the nation.
With a great foundation firmly in place, I do believe we will be able to create the vision that will not only keep us on track but will also serve to propel us forward. 2017 was a great year and postures us well for the next steps in this planning process.
We kicked off the year by being awarded two of the highest credit ratings any municipality or organization can receive in its first rating right out of the gate. Johns Creek received a Aaa rating from Moody’s Investor Service, and a AAA rating from Standard & Poors (S&P) Global Ratings. Out of 20,000 cities rated, Johns Creek is only one of 199 with a Aaa, and only one of 338 with a AAA.
Johns Creek used the high ratings to obtain a $40 million parks bond, which was voted on and approved by the residents of Johns Creek during the general election in November 2016, and has already begun putting the bond to use with the installation of its first three synthetic turf fields. We will continue to use the funds to help in the build out of our five new parks and refurbishment of our four existing parks.
The most significant addition to our growing parks system occurred when we closed on the 59-acre Quail Hollow property, which will be combined with the adjacent 133-acre Cauley Creek property to form the largest city park in Johns Creek. Both properties are strategically located along the Chattahoochee River near the Abbotts Bridge Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The final determination of how the land will be used will be planned through a public process.
Another vital document to keep engaged with is the Johns Creek Comprehensive Plan, which is currently under review. The current version, which is scheduled to be shown to the public for feedback and input this month, reduces the number of community or “character” areas from 12 down to eight. Residents who reside in each character area will have a tailored plan for redevelopment, parks, roadways, trails, and other activities that directly impact where they live.
Overall, the plan currently being discussed by the Citizen Advisory Committee is designed to minimize growth and density and, if fully realized, will average less than two units per acre of density city-wide moving forward. Please be on the lookout for the revised version soon, which we will proactively push out when it is ready.
We closed out the year by moving our City Hall into a temporary location while we refurbish a building in Technology Park that will serve as our new home. The consolidation of our City Hall and Police and Fire Departments’ headquarters under one roof will improve our already premier municipal services. We anticipate move in around late 2018.
So while we made great gains in 2017, we recognize that we still have much to accomplish. The City Council and I will use the New Year to plan for a future that we can already see is very bright. However, it will take a lot planning, and more importantly, we need you to remain engaged every step of the way. I know we are all up to the task, and I am excited about the potential.
As we head into another year, I wish you good health, happiness, and prosperity for 2018!