Brede, Staver set out goals for 2014
In separate addresses made at the Rochester City Council's first meeting of new year, Mayor Ardell Brede and City Council President Randy Staver spoke about what they expect and hope to see happen in 2014.
Brede gave his annual State of the City Address, which at the end included his announcement that he will run for re-election this year.
He said he represents the city well on a local, state and national level.
"I believe the legislative process and now being on the Destination Medical Center Corp. board will be beneficial, as we implement the DMC over the next four years. I ask for the public's support," he said.
Brede then talked about the Minnesota Legislature's approval of the DMC initiative, which was the biggest story for Rochester in 2013. He thanked all who worked on the initiative, including city staff and local legislators, and said the DMC will significantly transform the city but retain the qualities that make Rochester great.
"Dr. Charles Mayo once said, 'There is no fun like work,' and the work has begun," Brede said.
Looking forward to the upcoming legislative session, the mayor said he is hopeful that Rochester will finally, after several years of trying, secure $37 million in state bonding funds for Mayo Civic Center's expansion. The total project cost is estimated at $81 million.
Brede also talked about an initiative he plans to develop this year called a Compassionate City Campaign. The campaign will encourage citizens to help one another and volunteer.
"There are cities in the United States that already claim they are the most compassionate, but I know that with our unique history, confluence of diverse cultures and languages, we will create a unique path to becoming a community in which compassion comes alive," he said.
The mayor's speech also included information about: a city/county/state joint effort to improve the Third Judicial District's criminal justice system; the growing arts community in Rochester; local efforts to help military veterans; and a long list of upcoming events.
Staver said 2013 will be remembered as a milestone year, not only because of the DMC, but because of Rochester voters' extension of the local-option, half-cent sales tax. The extension will raise $139.5 million for 10 projects, including a new fire station, a new senior center and a recreation center renovation.
"These truly are dollars that will be invested in the future of the community and will have broad benefit," Staver said.
Then, he outlined several goals for the city in 2014, the most important being the updating of the city's Comprehensive Plan. The land-use plan was last updated in 1979, and although it has served the city well, "it is time to update the plan so that it better reflects our current community as we position ourselves for the changes ahead," he said.
As city and county staff work on updating the Comprehensive Plan, DMC projects will be taking shape and the University of Minnesota Rochester will be planning the expansion of its downtown campus. In addition, city and county officials and planners will need to tackle transportation issues, Staver said.
"These and other planning initiatives will take time and resources, and I call upon the various governmental agencies and planning bodies to work together in their efforts. We must share resources and information in ways that minimize wasteful overlap," he said.
Staver also called for the development of a comprehensive technology plan for the city, saying that the city operates in a disjointed fashion with regard to technology. A study completed in 2011 provides a number of possible solutions, he said, "and we need to move forward in implementing solutions that support both our current needs, as well as serve as the foundation for future solutions."
Finally, Staver said that as Rochester and the surrounding area continues to grow and change, in part, due to the DMC, the city needs to foster closer partnerships with other elected bodies. He suggested that the City Council begin a series of joint meetings with other groups of elected officials to discuss the challenges ahead.