I was very glad to deliver this year’s State of the City address in-person, at the just-opened Cove Community Center.
The state of our city is strong, it is resilient and we are proud of how we have come through this challenging time.
We know we will always have more work to do to keep Lakewood vital and healthy.
Our city is moving ahead with important initiatives on safety, affordability, sustainability, and infrastructure.
Safety is always first priority.
We provide our safety officers with the tools and equipment they need to play their part in keeping Lakewood safe. Over the past year, that meant new tools, equipment and vehicles, as well as 40 new specialized cameras that our officers use to track crime.
My administration’s overall approach to safety is holistic, incorporating prevention, crisis intervention, and investments in community building. This is part of how Lakewood has kept crime rates flat or declining, at a time of crime on the rise nationally.
At the end of March, my administration recommended a new proposal to redevelop the former site of Lakewood Hospital. A major feature of this proposal is office space which would allow Roundstone to continue the company’s growth here in Lakewood. Roundstone anticipates employing more than 200 people in the years ahead, and is on the way to becoming the second largest source of private payroll taxes in our city.
The redevelopment of this property would also add at least 200 units of new housing; 20,000 square feet of outdoor community space; and new garage parking.
Adaptive reuse of historic properties is, at the same time, a priority for our city, and in addition to the Cove Center, Lakewood Library recently reopened a completely renovated Madison Branch, and the city is engaged with multiple other adaptive reuse projects from Trinity Church to the former BiRite store.
Lakewood rightly takes pride in our historic character, but having a historic community also means that key parts of our municipal infrastructure are very old and in serious need of major upgrades. By leveraging a large portion of American Rescue Plan Act dollars to address those infrastructure costs, we have been able to reduce previously approved rate increases. This puts real dollars back in the hands of every ratepayer, now and in future years.
The savings we will accrue by making this move add up over time and will allow us to keep our services strong, our bond ratings high and our community affordable for people from all walks of life.
Lakewood has also addressed affordability through our nationally recognized rent-relief program, and through major construction of additional housing on the way.
Our city is making ongoing investments in infrastructure, including Foster Pool renovations, park improvements, and upgraded playing fields. Sound fiscal management has allowed Lakewood to come through the pandemic’s disruptions in a strong position.
I am proud to report that the Government Finance Officers Association recently recognized Lakewood with its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award Program. The award for our 2021 budget by GFOA marks the first time Lakewood has earned this recognition since 2007.
I invite you, as a valued part of our community, to join us on this journey.
Engage with your block club. Get to know some new neighbors. Volunteer and participate in city programming and events. Above all the things I have mentioned, what makes Lakewood a truly special place is our people.