Mayor Rob Chestnut is pleased with his one-year term as mayor, which will end Tuesday night.
Address on 6News
Coverage of tonight’s state of the city address will be aired live during an expanded 6 p.m. newscast on Sunflower Broadband’s Channel 6 and on our Web site, LJWorld.com. Lawrence Mayor Rob Chestnut is scheduled to deliver the address promptly at 6:35 p.m. from City Hall.
But he thinks he’ll be even more pleased with it in about two years.
“Quite honestly, I think we’re primed for growth,” Chestnut said. “I think we have put ourselves in a position to grow.”
Chestnut will end his term at Tuesday’s meeting after delivering the city’s annual State of the City Address, and — if tradition holds — vice mayor Mike Amyx will be elected by fellow commissioners to a one-year term as mayor.
“It really does still excite me,” said Amyx, who will be serving his fourth stint as mayor, if chosen. “There is something about the job that really does energize you.”
During his state of the city address, Chestnut is expected to highlight the fact the city balanced its budget for the third straight year, after running large deficits in 2006.
Several economic development issues from the past year also are expected to take center stage. They include:
• The purchase of the former Oread Labs building in West Lawrence to serve as a laboratory complex to attract promising biotech companies to the area.
• A preliminary agreement to take over ownership of the former Farmland Industries property to convert into a business park.
• The extension of new water and sewer service to Lawrence Municipal Airport to make the area more attractive to potential aviation-related businesses.
As of yet, the efforts have not produced large job gains for the local economy, and have resulted in multi-million dollar commitments from the city. But Chestnut said the tough national economy made job gains hard to come by during the past year.
“We didn’t have the show-stoppers that we would have liked,” Chestnut said, referring to new job announcements. “But I feel really good about the progress we have made. I can recognize the architecture for future success.”
Amyx, a downtown barber shop owner, said he wants to continue placing an emphasis on improving the community’s infrastructure needed to attract jobs.
“As important as it is to land the new business, you have to have a place for them to go in the first place,” Amyx said. “It is not glamorous to put that infrastructure in, but you have to have it to make a pitch to a big new company.”
Improvement of the city’s street conditions also is expected to be a point of emphasis during the next year. Both Amyx and Chestnut said they believe the city’s street maintenance strategy is a good one, but has been hampered by poor winter weather.
“I know people look at them right now and feel like we’re not in very good shape,” Chestnut said of the streets. “But we have to get past this short-term, really bad situation created by the weather. We’re on the right path, but it is going to take a sustained commitment over five to 10 years to get where we want to be.”
Although ending his term as mayor, Chestnut will remain on the commission. Commissioners each April choose one member from their ranks to serve as mayor — who runs city commission meetings, sets meeting agendas, and serves as the ceremonial head of the city.
Amyx is in line to become the next mayor, by tradition, because he was the top vote-winner in the last City Commission election. Commissioner Aron Cromwell is in line to become vice-mayor because he had the second highest vote total in the last election. Traditional holds that Cromwell then would be selected to serve a one-year term as mayor in April 2011.
Amyx previously has served a one-year term as mayor in 1985-86, 1987-88, and in 2006-2007.