Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 | 3:51 p.m.
Last year, the Henderson State of the City address was as much about the person giving it as the city itself. Then-Mayor Andy Hafen was termed out and preparing to retire after three decades as an elected official in the city. Looking back as his chapter closed was inevitable and appropriate.
This year, his successor spent most of her time looking forward, not back.
Mayor Debra March kicked off her first State of the City with a bang.
Pyrotechnics set to the tune of “Back in Black” and an appearance by the Raiderettes led into an approximately 40-minute speech that laid out a road map for economic growth and development in a city that is home to about 308,000 people and expected to grow to 390,000 over the next 20 years.
In 2017, the city issued more than 14,000 building permits and permitted nearly 11 million square feet of new construction. Residential construction permits are up more than 7 percent from the same time last year.
“That is truly remarkable,” said March. “But there will be plenty of work for us in the future, as we expect those numbers are only going to increase.”
Here are three key takeaways from the State of the City address today at the Green Valley Ranch Grand Events Center:
1. The Raiders but also west Henderson
Not surprisingly, March highlighted her speech with talk about the city’s intent to sell 55 acres of land near the Henderson Executive Airport to the Raiders for their corporate headquarters and practice facility. That deal is expected to be finalized on Feb. 6, and the facility is expected to bring $75 million of investment, hundreds of jobs in construction and development, and hundreds of additional jobs once the facility is up and running.
But March also characterized the Raiders deal as just one part of continuing growth in the western part of the city. She highlighted other projects in the area, including a 100-acre mixed-use urban center called Henderson West, which will be located east of the M Resort, as well as the Starr Road Interchange, which recently broke ground. She also hinted at “several other projects” whose details will emerge over the next few weeks.
2. Mature neighborhoods aren’t being forgotten about
March also highlighted development in some of the older parts of the city, including historic Henderson and Pittman. Water Street and other older parts of the city are undergoing infrastructure improvements as part of the city’s Complete Streets vision, which includes adding landscaping, common areas, lighting, more pedestrian space and bike-friendly roads.
Water Street is also being expanded north to connect the Water Street District with Cadence, a master-planned community that will have nearly 13,000 homes.
In the Pittman area, attracting much-needed amenities like a grocery store and health-care facilities is becoming a priority. Additionally, the city has a five-year plan for rehabilitating older homes and introducing community gathering spaces in the area. Part of those plans include a partnership with musician Carlos Santana and Habitat for Humanity.
3. Public safety is a priority
In the most touching part of the address, March acknowledged Joe and Tracy Robbins, parents of Quinton Robbins, a Henderson Parks and Recreation employee who was one of 58 people killed during the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“In a city where family means so much to us, we were heartbroken at his loss,” she said. “We celebrate Quinton and the good that he stood for.”
March said she was proud of the selfless service demonstrated by local police and firefighters during the Oct. 1 tragedy. She said the city is “more committed than ever” to public safety. To this end, the city launched an emergency operations center that integrates resources from multiple public safety agencies and departments.
She also recognized two newly appointed public safety officials — Fire Chief Shawn White and Police Chief LaTesha Watson — and their departments. White was sworn in Sept. 7, and Watson took the helm on Nov. 21.
March boasted about the fire department maintaining a cardiac survivability rate three times that of the national average, as well as the completion of the new Fire Station 91 serving Inspirada and west Henderson. She also noted upcoming expansions of Fire Station 83 on Burkholder Boulevard near Lake Mead Parkway and Fire Station 98 on Coronado Center Drive.
“When coupled with the fact that we are increasingly using smart city technologies to enhance public safety, it will streamline and improve all of our first responders’ abilities to protect residents and businesses,” March said.