Despite a year of economic uncertainly, Claremore Mayor Brant Shallenburger forecast a future “bright with promise” for the people of Claremore at Thursday’s “State of the City” address.

“Each year we focus on improving four key components of what makes a city a strong city — economic development, traffic, quality of life and sustainability,” Shallenburger began. “We started three years ago by focusing on the basics and rebuilding people’s confidence in their city government. In the year ahead, we’ll continue that trend by making the long-term investments and pioneering the innovations that will ensure Claremore’s future.”

Shallenburger acknowledged the economy has “seen better days,” but Claremore had made “great strides” and seen “positive results” from the city’s economic initiatives.

“Despite softer economic times, we charge forward; perhaps because we know that in Claremore, the best is yet to come,” he said. “Improving our service to the business community is a top priority for the City of Claremore.

“Together, we are laying the groundwork for the inevitable economic upswing,” he said. “From city leaders to business owners, we are investing millions, laying the foundation for when the economic climate will certainly change.”

Shallenburger also spent time addressing the city’s traffic concerns, reporting the city is currently undergoing a traffic study to identify short- and long-term solutions to in-city congestion, as well as the possibility of loops and thoroughfares in and around Claremore.

“In the meantime, we recently received word from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation they will be providing up to $57 million over the next five years for various traffic projects in and around Claremore — that’s extraordinary for a city of our size,” he said. “ It’s also a smart investment on the state’s part — investing in infrastructure not only improves the quality of life for our residents; it spurs economic growth, by improving the movement of goods, services and people in and around Claremore.”

Shallenburger said that of the money from ODOT, more than $15 million has been allocated to the solution for the Burlington Northern Railroad track, and the city plans to pursue Federal funding while beginning the engineering and design stages of the project.

“We’re starting by doing an alternative study to ensure that our current concepts are still the best route to take,” he said. “Once that’s complete, we’ll hold a series of public meetings to help determine the desired design and look of the track, so that we can have the situation resolved in the next five or six years. We’re going to seize on a once-in-a-century opportunity to remake the very face of our city.”

Shallenburger also noted the funding from ODOT would go toward repairs on Highway 66, with work scheduled to begin soon.

“Highways 20 and 88 will also see much-needed improvements, with nearly $34 million set aside for them,” he continued. “I know things never seem to happen quickly enough when you spend any time at all in traffic, but I assure you we have put solutions in overdrive.”

Other quality of life areas discussed by Shallenburger were improvements and upgrades within the city’s Parks and Recreation department, including the opening of the Claremore Skate Park and Powers Park improvements, among others, with emphasis on sustainability.

“By remaining fiscally prudent, we’re positioned to weather whatever the economy presents in the years ahead,” he said. “During the past few years, we’ve continued to work towards stability, accountability and standards to a government system where they were sorely lacking. With that strong foundation laid, we were able to take the next steps forward.

“The current city council has worked hard to tear down the long-held perception of a closed-door policy between them and the citizens,” he said. “The last few years have brought considerable change to Claremore’s City Hall, representing a renewed energy and spirit in our local government. We put controversy to rest and started fresh by building partnerships with public agencies and restoring the public’s trust.”

Shallenburger closed his address by reinforcing what he felt was Claremore’s potential for a bright future.

“Today, I find Claremore poised for true greatness, we’re removing the obstacles to our success, planning for the future we all want for our families, and nothing can stop us except our own failure to believe,” he said. “”Throughout this coming year, we’ll make many choices that will define the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren over the next century.”

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