Feb. 2, 2020 — “Tonight’s State of the City Address is a celebration of the accomplishments of 2019 and a look ahead at what we have planned for 2020,” said Florence Mayor Joe Henry on Thursday. He addressed hundreds of community members who attended the State of the City and City Expo at the Florence Events Center (FEC).
The two-hour event included booths of the many services the City of Florence offers, with city staff and volunteers who interacted with the community and hors d’oeurves catered by the FEC.
At 6 p.m., Florence City Manager Erin Reynolds welcomed residents and guests before U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River’s Color Guard presented the flag of the United States. Siuslaw High School Student Alizabeth Norton, who will portray Mary Poppins in CROW’s April musical at the FEC, sang the National Anthem.
“Thank you everyone for joining us tonight for this year’s annual State of the City,” Reynolds said. “It’s always so special to have our Coast Guard here and participating in events, as we are an official Coast Guard City, as recognized by our banner. New this year is our City Services Expo, and I hope you had the chance to mix and mingle and talk to city staff and learn about city services.”
She thanked the city staff, volunteers, committee members and city management team for their work in the past year. In addition, Reynolds acknowledged the Florence City Council “for supporting us and providing excellent direction and policies for us to execute year over year. It makes tonight’s event possible for us to share with you, the community, our accomplishments and the things to come in 2020.”
Reynolds then introduced Henry, who gave his top six of the city’s accomplishments of the past year.
“The City of Florence has made great strides in many areas during the past few years, but one that I am very proud of is the continuing improvement in the relationship between the city and our community,” Henry said. “The City Expo tonight is designed to further enhance that relationship by demonstrating what our many city department do on a day-to-day basis to make Florence an amazing place to live, work and play.”
The first accomplishment Henry listed was the completion of the remodel of Florence City Hall, 250 Highway 101. The updated space includes expanded council chambers, increased meeting space, better technology and a redesigned layout, as well as a curved exterior and new landscaping.
The second accomplishment was investment and expansion of the city’s infrastructure. These included extended water and sewer services north on Highway 101 and east on Highway 126 and runway lighting upgrades at Florence Municipal Airport.
Henry also talked about the ReVision Florence Streetscape Project, which was projected to be completed last fall.
“We found a few interesting things along the way, but we are on the home stretch. ReVision Florence construction is nearing completion and we will begin working on the Old Town gateways soon,” he said.
The city’s fourth accomplishment was the overhaul and update of the city’s residential housing code. A project undertaken by city staff, the Planning Commission and volunteers, the update should continue to ease the way for developers to create affordable housing in the Florence area.
The fifth accomplishment had to do with the City Council Goal of livability and quality of life. Henry referenced Miller Park’s in progress updates, as well as the community effort behind the update to Singing Pines Dog Park, led by resident and local business owner Jolene Medeiros. Another park was also added to city, a river access park on the Siuslaw River with a view of the historic Siuslaw River Bridge.
The sixth Henry highlighted from 2019 was the relationship with the community. Henry mentioned two community events in their second year, the Community Block Party in Historic Old Town and Florence Police Department’s National Night Out, held at Miller Park.
“In 2018, we won the Rookie of the Year Award for our National Night Out from the National Association of Town Watch. How do you top that? Well, our 2019 event won the Outstanding Participant Award!” Henry announced. “We are one of 20 communities to win this award out of the 16,000 participants.”
Other community events the city partnered with or participated in included the Rhododendron Festival, Power of Florence, Florence Holiday Festival, as well as other events that specific committees or departments attended.
“There were so many more accomplishments in 2019,” Henry said.
He encouraged people to stop by each of the city services included in the expo, as well as visit ci.florence.or.us and the city’s social media pages.
As for 2020, “There are many things already in motion to support our City Council Goals and our workplan priorities,” the mayor said.
Besides following the workplan’s five goals of city service delivery, livability and quality of life, economic development, communication and trust, and financial and organizational sustainability, Henry gave six projects that the city will focus on this year. These include stormwater improvements in the Coastal Highlands neighborhood; water line replacement for Ninth Street; realignment and improvements for Rhododendron Drive from Wild Winds to 35th Street; addition of sidewalks to 26th and 27th streets, between Highway 101 and Oak Street, thanks to a Safe Routes to School Grant; support for the community effort to design a gateway park honoring veterans at the Florence Municipal Airport; and the addition of three monuments at the points of entry into the city to welcome people to Florence and display the Coast Guard City designation.
“Wow, 2020 is going to be a busy year!” Henry exclaimed. “Florence really is a city in motion, and we’re working every day, very hard, to become Oregon’s Premier Coastal Community.”