|This information was originally published in the December 17, 2016, issue of the SanTan Sun News, which can be found online here.
Celebrating Chandler in 2016: Year in Review
2016 marked another banner year at the City of Chandler. Let’s take a look back at the highlights that defined the past year.
The year kicked off with an invitation to the community to participate in an important series of public meetings to discuss Chandler’s Draft General Plan. The General Plan is one of the most important documents for a city as it outlines future growth and development.
The Chandler City Council unanimously voted during its Jan. 14 meeting to elect Councilmember Jack Sellers as the City’s new Vice Mayor, to serve in the position for approximately one year.
Ryan Peters was selected as the City’s new Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator. Peters has more than 10 years of municipal public policy and state legislative experience. He came to Chandler from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, where he had served as a Legislative Associate to represent all 91 cities and towns in Arizona.
The City Council adopted an Adaptive Reuse Overlay District to facilitate the reuse of existing underperforming/underutilized retail buildings and properties.
The City Council also approved the expansion of Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department’s Fire Training Center Burn Building, located at the Fire Training Center on south Dobson Road. A construction contract was awarded to Danson Construction, LLC.
The City’s Diversity Office hosted the annual Multicultural Festival at a new location, the Chandler Fashion Center. Hundreds of residents and shoppers attended, exposing the cultural event to new people.
During his annual State of City Address, Mayor Jay Tibshraeny detailed Chandler’s many successes and important topics from the past year, including economic development, quality of life, public safety and transparency in government. Mayor Tibshraeny said, “Chandler continues to add programs, services and events that open up government to our residents and stakeholders.” The Mayor also highlighted the City’s financial standing, budget process and community relationships.
Chandler was proud to announce that State Forty Eight, LLC, a maker of Arizona-themed and inspired- apparel, has found its first permanent home in north Chandler.
Another great event that took place in February was a free live stream of TED2016 conference sessions at the Chandler Public Library. The Downtown Chandler Library hosted the real-time viewing of four TED2016 sessions. TED began in 1984 as a conference featuring short talks of 18 minutes or less, on a wide range of topics, for the purpose of spreading great ideas across the globe.
The City’s Economic Development Division hosted a successful Chandler Science Spectacular in Downtown Chandler. The event is sponsored by Intel, and thousands were in attendance to experience a whole new side of science.
The City kicked off its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Once completed, five tax preparation sites generated refunds of approximately $2.5 million for 1,860 low- to moderate-income residents. Sixty volunteers invested more than 4,500 hours assisting residents.
In a community effort to teach compassion and diversity through the lessons of the Holocaust, Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC), the City of Chandler and the East Valley Jewish Community Center (JCC) offered a week of instructional opportunity open to students and the public. “Then They Came for Us” events commemorated the Holocaust through a series of educational exhibits, artwork and survivor stories.
The City Council approved an ordinance to redevelop Site 6. Named “Chandler 87,” the development project consists of approximately 169,000 square feet of office space with an additional 8,000-10,000 square feet of retail across from Chandler City Hall.
Mayor Jay Tibshraeny hosted his annual Health Connect Expo as part of his ongoing initiative to promote overall well-being for Chandler residents.
The Mayor’s cable television program, Chandler Inside and Out, featured guests from the Arizona Cardinals: Head coach Bruce Arians and Ron Wolfley, radio analyst.
Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the Chandler City Council appointed Marsha Reed as Chandler’s City Manager at its April 14 meeting, replacing Rich Dlugas, who retired in June 2015, and marking the completion of a national recruitment. Reed had been serving as Acting City Manager since June 2015 and Assistant City Manager since joining Chandler in April 2013. Reed previously worked for the City of Lubbock, Texas, for 20 years, serving as Chief Operating Officer, Director of Public Works and in several engineering capacities. She also held engineering and transportation planning positions at the Lubbock District of the Texas Department of Transportation for 10 years.
Mayor Tibshraeny took City Hall on the road with a Mayor’s Listening Tour held at Knox Gifted Academy. During the event, the Mayor honored the winners of the 2015 Neighborhood Excellence Awards.
John Knudson was selected as the City’s new Municipal Utilities Director, replacing Dave Siegel who retired in October 2015. Knudson has worked for Chandler’s Municipal Utilities Department for 13 years, serving as the Utilities Engineering Manager for the past five years. He has implemented the department’s capital improvement program and managed more than $900 million in construction projects since joining the City.
The City of Chandler was selected by Google as the first city in Arizona to test its self-driving car project. Testing fleets are currently in the cities of Mountain View, Calif., Austin, Texas and Kirkland, Wash.
Chandler Center for the Arts General Manager Michelle Mac Lennan was honored by the Phoenix Business Journal with a Women in Business Award.
Memorial Day 2016 marked one of distinction in Chandler as the City invited veterans and residents to attend the dedication of the first phase of Chandler’s Field of Honor Veterans Memorial, located on the northeast corner of Chandler Heights and Lindsay roads. The memorial’s completed first phase includes a family plaza overlook that replicates the Arizona State Flag and features low walls with inscriptions recognizing six core values significant to veterans and their families: Freedom, Reflection, Recognition, Sacrifice, Family and Memories.
Tom Dwiggins was selected as the City’s new Fire Chief, replacing Jeff Clark who retired in January. Dwiggins had served as the interim fire chief since January. Dwiggins was first hired as a firefighter for the City in 1998. He has held every sworn position within the department, promoting through the ranks to the position of Assistant Fire Chief in 2014.
For the 10th consecutive year, Chandler was honored with a Playful City USA designation, an accomplishment shared by just 12 founding cities since KaBoom! initiated the program in 2007.
Assistant City Manager Nachie Marquez was honored with an Advocate for Education Award by the Victoria Foundation.
The City partnered with Gangplank and the ASU Chandler Innovation Center to host the “Most Connected City” forum, bringing together key stakeholders to discuss ways to leverage technology to build community reengagement.
Chandler Fire, Health & Medical held a swearing in ceremony for nine graduates of its 2016 Fire Academy. During the ceremony, the nine received their official badges, took the oath of office, and were given their station and shift assignments.
The City Council approved an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., making it easier for Chandler businesses to sell their goods internationally. The bank is the official export credit agency of the United States and facilitates the export of U.S. goods by offering a variety of financing tools.
Chandler’s Municipal Utilities and Transportation & Development departments were reaccredited by the American Public Works Association (APWA). To achieve reaccreditation, Chandler had to show full or substantial compliance with 465 best management practices covering 31 different categories.
The City Council approved a resolution to pay the Gila River Indian Community nearly $43 million for rights to a portion of the tribe's Central Arizona Project water. The deal allows Chandler to obtain long-term storage credits to store additional CAP water underground. The agreement will handle both new demand and some of its needs for the next 100 years.
The City Council approved Alta San Marcos, a 273-unit multifamily residential complex, on the southwest corner of Chandler Boulevard and Dakota Street, just west of Arizona Avenue.
Chandler’s Parks and Recreation hosted a successful party in the park at Chandler’s July 4th Fireworks Spectacular. The Division also celebrated National Park and Recreation Month with its super hero theme and a series of free activities.
The City Council approved the Allred Park Place project, a 73-acre parcel located at the northeast and southwest corners of Price and Willis roads, which will include a business park, hotel, conference center and service retail uses.
The City Council also approved the creation of a Sister Cities International program exchange with Tainan City, Taiwan.
Chandler Fire, Health & Medical extended their pilot program with the Veterans Affairs/Phoenix Health Care System. The 18-month extension allows the Department to continue managing the delivery of healthcare and follow up medical services of Chandler veterans.
Two new restaurant concepts opened in the Downtown: La Bocca and Modern Margarita.
In the August Primary Election, Chandler voters elected Nora Ellen (incumbent) and Sam Huang to the City Council. Council candidates Matt Eberle and Mark Stewart were selected to a run-off in the Nov. 8 general election. In addition, voters overwhelmingly passed the General Plan Update (Prop. 493).
Google hosted an open house in Downtown Chandler to showcase the Self-Driving Car Project to the community.
Chandler Parks & Recreation earned two statewide Awards of Excellence from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association: 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award and the Outstanding Adaptive Program Award, competing with more than 90 statewide nominees across 22 categories.
Members of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns selected Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny as president of the League. Mayor Tibshraeny will serve a two-year term.
Mayor Tibshraeny took City Hall on the road again with a successful Mayor’s Listening Tour held at Sylvia Encinas Hartford Elementary School.
The Neighborhood Programs Office hosted the Fall HOA Academy for Chandler residents. The free series of classes were held in partnership with Mulcahy Law Firm and Shaw & Lines, LLC.
Chandler Libraries celebrated Library Card Sign-Up Month with a series of programs that encouraged lifetime learners.
Three City facilities received Best of Chandler Awards from the East Valley Tribune: Mesquite Groves-Best Public Pool; Tumbleweed Recreation Center-Best Place to Exercise, and Chandler Center for the Arts-Best Live Performance.
The City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in the exterior areas of the City Hall campus located at Arizona Avenue and Chicago Street.
Rogers Corp., an engineered materials solution firm, announced it is moving its global headquarters from namesake Rogers, Connecticut, to Chandler. Rogers Advanced Connectivity Solutions division is already headquartered in Chandler, and has been in the area for 50 years.
The City of Chandler was recognized during the third annual Salt River Project (SRP) Champions of Energy Efficiency Awards event. Chandler was honored for their participation in the company’s commercial energy efficiency rebate and ENERGY STAR® Homes programs and for going “above and beyond” in their efforts to create a culture of conservation and stewardship.
Chandler’s Economic Development Division worked with Google to sign a lease for a 39,000 square-foot facility in west Chandler, which will serve as Google’s hub for its self-driving car project testing in the Valley.
The City’s Planning staff was honored with a Public Outreach Award for the 2016 General Plan Update from the Arizona Planning Association. The award showcases staff’s outstanding work with the process.
The City partnered with Arizona PBS to launch a Chandler photo challenge on CaptureMyArizona.com. Arizona PBS selected the three winning photos, a total of 64 photos were received, garnering 2,445 votes.
Brenda Brown, Chandler’s Cultural Affairs Division Director, was selected as the City’s new Community Services Director. Brown has more than 19 years in library leadership and management positions, with more than 11 of those years devoted to serving Chandler.
The Chandler City Council appointed Kelly Schwab as the City Attorney. Schwab came to Chandler from the City of Mesa, where she had served as an Assistant City Attorney for the past year. She also was a partner in a Phoenix area law firm for 10 years and represented numerous Arizona cities and towns as their legal counsel during her 24 years in private practice.
The City Council amended the City Code (Chapter 14-relating to dogs) to prohibit the act of cruelly restraining a dog (also known as “tethering”). The ordinance is considered a preventative measure that will allow police officers to work with citizens to improve the living conditions of their dogs and further prevent potential animal cruelty violations.
Mayor Jay Tibshraeny hosted his inaugural Safety and Veterans Expo at the City Hall Complex. During the event, attendees heard "Courageous Stories of Arizona Military Aviators," featuring helicopter pilots who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan sharing some of their experiences.
These speakers debuted the Chandler Public Library series, America in Times of Conflict, which will run through April 2017. The series features speakers, discussion groups, authors and films that explore our country’s history and culture during wartime.
During the November General Election, Mark Stewart was elected to the Chandler City Council.
Cambria Hotels & Suites hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at Chandler Viridian. Slated to open in 2017, the facility will feature 136 rooms, a pool with cabanas, fitness room, lounge area and 1,300 square feet of meeting space.
A Texas-based dine-in movie theatre, the Alamo Drafthouse, opened its first Arizona location on the northeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Heights Boulevard.
Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the Chandler City Council officially kicked off the 2016 holiday season in downtown Chandler with the 20th annual Parade of Lights, followed by the lighting of the 60th Tumbleweed Tree. More than 12,000 people joined in celebrating Chandler’s unique southwestern holiday tradition that dates back to 1957.
The City hosted a series of public meetings to discuss the Dr. A.J. Chandler Park master plan. The park was last renovated in 1985. This project will examine the existing features of the park and will develop a conceptual master plan to ensure the park will sustain current and future growth of the downtown.
Orbital ATK, one of the world’s leading aerospace and defense technology firms, announced the expansion of the company’s Launch Vehicles Division operations into an additional facility in Chandler. The company will be moving into the Allred Park Place along Chandler’s Price Corridor, known for being home to leading edge companies focused on advanced business services, aerospace, life sciences, sustainable and high technology research and manufacturing.
Accolades abound in 2016!
Chandler was among the top cities on many lists this year. Here is some of the special recognition:
The website WalletHub ranked Chandler in numerous lists, including
#14 Best Place for veterans to Live
#20 Best City to Find a Job
#10 Best City for People with Disabilities
44 Best City for Most Active Lifestyles
#9 Best City for Valentines
#15 Hardest Working City
#13 Best Place for St. Patricks
#42 Most Diverse City
#3 Best Cities for Renters
Center for Digital Government’s Digital Cities Awards: #9 for Cities 125K to 250K
Law Street: #10 Safest City in U.S. over 200K
The Money Source: #6 Top Cities for 1st time homebuyers
Livability.com: #2 Best Cities for Families
Go Banking Rates: #5 Best City for Saving Money
The website SmartAsset.com also ranked Chandler on various lists, including:
#6 Best Place to get out of Debt
#6 Best City for Women in Technology
#6 Best Cities for Retirees
#7 Hardest Working City in America