Jul 28, 2014

Mayor: State of The City Is Healthy, But There's Work Ahead

Kristina Lawson discusses the city's economy, health and environment at the annual State of the City address

Mayor: State of The City Is Healthy, But There's Work Ahead Mayor: State of The City Is Healthy, But There's Work Ahead Mayor: State of The City Is Healthy, But There's Work Ahead Mayor: State of The City Is Healthy, But There's Work Ahead
Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson looked back on 100 years of accomplishments and looked forward to 12 months of dedicated work during the annual State of the City luncheon on Tuesday.

"I'm happy to report the state of the city is sound," said Lawson. "Our future is just as promising as it was 100 years ago. But there's work to be done."

Lawson discussed the city's economy, health care facilities, environment and spirit at the luncheon sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and attended by more than 200 people at the Boundary Oak Golf Course Clubhouse.

Lawson said it was a "humbling honor" to serve as mayor during the city's centennial year.

Lawson touched on five main topics while assessing the city's status.

The first was the economy. Lawson said that ever since Walnut Creek residents incorporated in 1914 so they could pave Main Street, the community has shown a willingness to commit resources and finances for improvements.

"There's been a tradition of investing in the community," she said.

Lawson noted that same commitment can be seen today with the owners of Broadway Plaza getting ready to begin  a $250 million renovation of the downtown shopping center.

Lawson added there are 14 condominium and apartment projects either under construction or on the drawing boards in town. Those complexes will bring 1,500 new housing units to the city.

She said the city and chamber are also working to revitalize the Shadelands Business Park, which generates $100 million in economic activity a year.

Among the projects is Safeway's plans to build a 202,000-square-foot retail center on vacant land in the office park.

Health care was another topic. Lawson noted there are two main hospitals in town -- the John Muir Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente.

In addition, John Muir has opened a new urgent care center on Treat Boulevard and Children's Hospital last year opened a youth sports clinic in the Shadelands park.

The mayor also discussed the city's history of being a welcoming place for families.

"Walnut Creek's family friendly roots run deep," she said.

Among other things, the city plans to open an all abilities playground at Heather Farm Park in October.

Lawson also discussed the environment. At the top of that list, she said, is the the city's purchases of open space such as Shell Ridge.

Lawson noted the city also has approved a master plan for bicycling and is working on a similar plan for pedestrians.

Finally, Lawson discussed the city's community spirit. She noted the volunteerism throughout the town, in particular the citizens who are now attending meetings to work out the West Downtown Specific Plan.

"A strong sense of community is the cornerstone of what makes Walnut Creek special," said Lawson.

However, the mayor noted a discussion of the city's status needs to include the upcoming budget workshops on the 2014-2016 budget. Lawson said the city has "weathered a difficult financial storm," but they are still facing deficits and will need to make some "difficult choices" on city programs this year.

She said city leaders need the help of citizens to solve all these problems.

"We can only succeed with the collective efforts of the community," she said.

Lawson said the city will recognize its past successes during its centennial celebrations this year.

"We have much to celebrate indeed," she said.

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