Merced is a City on the Rise and it is the honor of a lifetime to serve as your mayor at this exciting time. We have reached the midpoint of the calendar year, and I would like to update residents on the progress of the initiatives your mayor, councilmembers and city staff have been working on since my State of the City address earlier this year.
The budget we adopted at the end of June is balanced, adds money to our reserves for future rainy days and prioritizes key investments meaningful to residents.
For example, we need more emergency dispatchers to handle 911 calls and more officers on the streets to respond when every second counts. Our budget augments both of these vital services. We also added a new ladder truck to our fire department to better respond to emergencies as our city grows.
Exciting developments are occurring downtown. The El Capitan is being transformed into a modern hotel that will include a restaurant on street level.
The Tioga is also being restored to its former glory and will soon have 70 market-rate apartments for residents who want to live in downtown. These projects are scheduled to be complete by 2020. Soon after, the Mainzer Theatre will reopen as a much anticipated addition to our downtown arts and entertainment district.
Our parks need attention, so we are dedicating resources to catch up on deferred maintenance. In Applegate Park, for example, we recently replaced the roses and irrigation system near Laura’s Fountain and will soon replace the playground equipment. The City Council has a strong interest in beautifying public spaces and is forming a resident-led commission to increase public art.
Keep an eye on the city’s website if you have an interest in being a commissioner.
In June, residents voted to tax cannabis in the city by approving Measure Y.
All these revenues are dedicated to improving public safety and parks and recreation programming in our city.
Residents will begin to see more roadwork in the city soon; there will be more than at any time in recent memory due to the passage of Measure V. Every council district in the city will see investments in roadways. We are constructing sidewalks in many neighborhoods where they currently don’t exist and adding to our network of beautiful bike paths.
These investments will improve both commerce and air quality in our city.
We have a new police chief – Chief Chris Goodwin is a 21-year veteran of our department, bringing strong leadership and a love for Merced.
We have a lot to be proud of, but we still face challenges, especially with respect to homelessness. It has become a statewide epidemic and Merced is not immune. Though we’ve made great strides in reducing homelessness among veterans, problems still persist. We must do better.
Homelessness impacts the quality of life of all of our residents, not just those without shelter.
We need to increase our housing supply. There are more than 10 subdivisions under construction and we are working with developers to build apartments to meet the needs of an increased student population scheduled to attend UC Merced by 2020.
We have a lot going for us in Merced. We are a City on the Rise because of the wonderful people that call it home. The contributions each of you make to strengthen your family, your neighborhood or your place of worship make a collective impact that government could never replicate. It is an honor to serve as your mayor. Let’s keep the momentum.
Mike Murphy is mayor of Merced.