What is the current state of the city of Claremore? In a word, outstanding.
In his State of the City presentation given on Thursday afternoon, Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas summed up how he sees the current state of affairs in the city.
"Overall, the state of our city is outstanding. This does not happen by accident. It happens by having a plan, outlining a vision for the future, supported by dedicated city department directors working alongside elected city leaders representing the city of Claremore. We have much to be proud of. We are also fortunate to have men and women who have pioneered in our city working behind the scenes in banking, education, small and large business developments, accounting, and politics making contributions that future generations will inherit," he said, during the event hosted by Claremore Chamber of Commerce and held at Rogers State University.
In terms of economic and residential growth, Thomas said, "We together, as ambassadors of the city, are promoting a sense of economic prosperity through community involvement through Claremore Dreams 2025 and the Comprehensive Master Plan 2045 and the unified business codes. New residents and developers are interested in coming to Claremore because we are proactively promoting our city as a great place to live, work and play. It is an honor for me to serve as your city manager, working together with an outstanding group of department heads and elected officials as we move our city forward."
He said Claremore Dreams 2025 is "our current strategic plan which outlines major policy initiatives which guides our fiscal decisions and will provide the quality of life our residents and business community will appreciate."
He gave a brief financial overview saying the city currently has six months of general government operational funds in reserves.
"When you combine the general fund and the enterprise fund the city has invested nearly $10 million in the last year in capitol assets including infrastructure, equipment, vehicles all involving water, sewer, electric, police, fire, and our public works. We have also retired more than $5 million in debt in 2019," he said.
Highlights of 2019 included a successful inaugural Love Day, the installation of dash cameras and body cameras for Claremore Police Department, and a public safety radio project.
"And $5 million in the next three years," he said introducing an upcoming road project. "Frederick Road is going to be widened, we're going to tie that in to the new Highway 20. That is coming. They've been talking about that state Highway 20 connection from Owasso over the Verdigris River and then ultimately going over the BNSF railroad tracks on Highway 66. We will tie in at Flint Road, then the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is tying us into the turnpike so we will have a third interchange. So as the city looked at that and saw the volume of traffic coming down Frederick Road that is a very narrow road now we are in the early stages of right-of-way acquisition and road development those plans are being done now we hope to go out to bid in January 2021. It's a real thing."
Thomas said the city is also planning to build a new lake access road.
"Right now the road you take to go to the lake goes right between the water plant. If you remember, we spent about $20 million in the last two years upgrading our water plant. From a security standpoint it doesn't make sense to allow the public to drive through the water plant, so we're building a new road."
Also looking forward, Thomas said the city is committed to spend $5 million addressing city electric issues over the next three years-
"We will continue to work on our electric grid to resolve weaknesses in our system which include squirrel-initiated power outages. That's the truth! Upgrades to our notification system and resolving unexpected power outages," he said. "We've been in the electric business as long as GRDA has been around, we're their longest partner in that. We recognize the power good electricity has and we appreciate the support we have with GRDA. We need to spend a little more money on our infrastructure."
He said successes in water system upgrades last year included: water system upgrades included 12,500 linear feet of new waterline, 40+ new fire hydrants, 20+ new waterline valves, address dead-ends and eliminate."