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May 2021 • Newsletter

Surprise Retail Survey

The last day to take the 2021 online retail survey is May 9! We utilize the survey to see what local retail and restaurant spots you love most, and what new shopping and dining destinations you want to see in Surprise. Please help Surprise stand out as we market our community to new retailers and recognize local places doing a great job! To take the survey, please visit surpriseaz.gov/retailsurvey.

FY2022 Budget

The City Manager’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Recommended Budget, was presented at the Special City Council meeting on April 16. The budget continues to focus on our commitment to maintain quality public services and infrastructure. The Recommended Budget includes $118.7 million for planned Capital Improvement Projects (CIP). These funds support infrastructure, renovations and construction of a police substation, fire stations, municipal art projects, water and wastewater treatment facilities, as well as improvements to the quality of the City’s recreation centers, fields, parks, roadways and drainage.

Final budget adoption is scheduled for the June 1 Regular Council Meeting. To follow the budget process, please visit surpriseaz.gov/budget.

Donna Miller Retirement

It saddens us to announce that Parks and Recreation Director Donna Miller, has retired after 19 years with the city. She joined the Community & Recreation Services (CRS) team in 2002 as a Recreation Coordinator, rose to the rank of Assistant Director in 2011, and Director in 2017. A big “Thank You” to Donna for her dedication to the City of Surprise, and well wishes as she enters retirement!

White Tanks Wild Day Proclamation

Surprise partnered with the White Tanks Conservancy and other West Valley cities to proclaim April 22 White Tanks Wild Day. We are encouraging citizens to visit the White Tank Mountains; to learn more about our local history to educate themselves regarding the imperative for protecting place and passage for wildlife and people; and to support the White Tank Mountains Conservancy in its mission to conserve, connect and collaborate, so all future generations may enjoy the natural and cultural resources of the mountains.

The White Tank Mountains are an ecological, aesthetic, and economic asset for the nearly 5 Million Maricopa County residents, as well as public and private sectors across the State of Arizona.

City Libraries Enter Next Phase of Re-opening

Maricopa County Library District, the operator of our three city libraries, has moved into its next phase of reopening. Visitors now have full browsing access to library shelves, along with already-implemented contactless and limited contact services. There will not be indoor library events/programming at this time, but they may offer small programs outdoors, if weather permits. This phase does not allow for public access to the computers. Learn more at www.mcldaz.org.

West Valley Hub for Military & Veteran Resources and Support Services

In partnership with the Arizona Coalition for Military Families (ACMF), Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, Northern Arizona University (NAU), Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, and Rio Salado Community College, the City of Surprise is proud to offer the West Valley Military and Veteran Success Center a new location within the Surprise Resource Center at the AZ TechCelerator Campus, located at 12425 W. Bell Road, Suite 124.

The center includes a variety of military and veteran support services and resources. Support services at the Surprise Resource Center will be implemented in phases. The first phase of services are now available and include a part-time Be Connected navigator and full-time AmeriCorps member provided by ACMF and NAU.

The second phase is expected to be implemented this fall, and will include the deployment of an Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Veteran Benefits Counselor (VBC) by establishing a satellite office and creating access for service members residing in the West Valley.

For more information on the West Valley Military and Veteran Success Center, please visit the City of Surprise website at surpriseaz.gov/veterans.

Surprise Day of Service

Mayor Hall fills bags with pinto beans.City Council volunteered at a Seeds of Hope Ministries event on April 24 to fill bags of beans for ease of distribution to those in need through the Valley View Community Food Bank. City Council and other volunteers helped to bag 6,000 lbs of beans!

The next Surprise Day of Service will be held on May 26, 2021 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more information, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/dayofservice or contact larry.garcia@surpriseaz.gov.

Memorial Day Ceremony

The American Legion Post 96 and Marine Corps League WTMD will host a ceremony at the Army Air Corp Memorial, located on the west side of Surprise Lake at Surprise Community Park, on Saturday, May 29 at 9 a.m. For more information please visit the city website at surpriseaz.gov/.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

IRS trained volunteers are offering free income tax assistance at two Surprise locations. A New Leaf’s VITA Program provides free tax preparation services, ensuring that hard-working individuals receive the maximum benefits available without losing hundreds of dollars in paid-preparer fees. Households who make $57,000 or less are eligible for this free service.

Surprise Locations:

  • Surprise Resource Center
    12325 W. Bell Road, Bldg. A, Suite #124, Surprise, AZ 85378.
    Offered now – April 15, 2021, Mondays and Tuesdays from 4:00pm – 6:00pm, Thursdays from 9:00am – 11:30am.
  • Riverboat Bingo
    18300 W. Bell Road, Surprise, AZ 85374.
    Offered now – April 14, 2021, Wednesdays from 11:00am – 1:30pm.

For more information, please visit www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-qualifying-taxpayers or www.turnanewleaf.org/services/financial-empowerment/vita-program.html.

Watch the 2021 State of the City Video

Following an April 13 live premiere, the 2021 State of the City video is now available for on-demand replay. 

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted so many people in so many ways last year, and in this video, we highlight the resilience of our community. We connected in new ways, took care of each other, and supported our local businesses. This video also captures how our strength, effort, and strategic planning place the city’s trajectory toward future success.

The video will also replay on the Cox 11 cable channel at select times. See the schedule here: https://surprisetv.surpriseaz.gov/schedule

April 2021 • Newsletter

State of the City 2021

On April 13, I invite you to tune into a video premiere of our State of the City at 6 p.m. We will reflect on the resilience of our community and look forward to what’s on the horizon.

The State of the City video premiere will be carried live on Surprise TV, online at surpriseaz.gov/surpriseTV, and via Facebook LIVE on the City of Surprise Facebook page. If you are unable to tune into the premiere, the video will be rebroadcast on Surprise TV and will be available for viewing on the Surprise TV website.

State of the City thumbnail

Economic Development Update

Crumbl Cookies has signed a lease at the southwest corner of Litchfield and Waddell, the “Marley Park” corner! Founded in Logan, UT in 2017, Crumbl now has more than 75 locations in 11 states. They offer cookie favorites such as chocolate chip and sugar cookies as well as 120 flavors that rotate weekly! More information: https://crumblcookies.com

B&B Appliances is moving into the former Luby’s location on Bell Road, east of RH Johnson Blvd, and is on track to open this month! B & B is a local family-owned appliance retailer that sells “mis-ordered” and scratched and dented appliances as well as brand new appliances. More information: https://bbappliances.com/

Surprise City Council Budget Retreat

The Surprise City Council Budget Retreat will take place on Friday, April 16 and will be open to public attendance. It will also be televised for those wishing to watch remotely. The retreat begins at 9 a.m. in City Council Chambers. There will be a lunch break approximately between 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

At the retreat, Council will continue the development of the Fiscal Year 2022 City Manager’s Recommended Budget, which is scheduled to be released to the City Council in April. Final budget adoption comes in June, and Fiscal Year 2022 begins July 1, 2021.

In addition to in-person public comment, the public may comment by email prior to the start of the meeting. To submit email comments, please email publiccomments@surpriseaz.gov.

For more information about the budget-building process for Fiscal Year 2022 visit, surpriseaz.gov/budget.

Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation

Surprise is joining cities across the country in asking residents to make a long-term commitment to manage water resources more wisely by taking part in the annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. The annual challenge is a non-profit national community service campaign to see which cities can best inspire their residents to make an online pledge at mywaterpledge.com to use water more efficiently, reduce pollution, and save energy.

To participate, residents must make a series of online pledges to conserve water through April 30. Cities with the highest percentage of residents who take the Challenge in their population category are entered into drawings for hundreds of eco-friendly prizes. In 2020, Surprise placed seventh in our population category!

In addition to participating in national and statewide water conservation campaigns, Surprise offers rebates to city-serviced water customers, landscape workshops, school presentations and more. To learn more about the Surprise water conservation program and resources for residents, visit surpriseaz.gov/waterconservation

Surprise Parks & Recreation Commission Hall of Fame

The City of Surprise Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission voted to induct Charley Pride and Buck O’Neil into the Surprise Recreation Campus Hall of Fame. Other 2021 Hall of Fame inductees includes: Gold Glove winners Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers; and Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals.

Charley Pride, the legendary recording artist and performer who entertained millions around the world was no stranger to the game of baseball. Pride pitched in both the Negro and Minor Leagues throughout the 1950’s. Buck O’Neil, a Kansas City baseball legend, contributed to the sport of baseball in several ways, including as a player, a manager, and later as a speaker and historian for the Negro League. In 1962, he became the first black coach in Major League Baseball, working with the Chicago Cubs.

The Commission would also like to formally recognize 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Mike Planeta. Planeta advocated to ensure that the quality of recreation facilities and programming in Surprise remained at a first-class level.

Property Maintenance Ordinance

Currently, the City of Surprise follows the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code, or IPMC. The IPMC sets the standards of safety and appearance to all structures and premises within the city. The City of Surprise wants to replace the current property maintenance code, with one that is more specific to Surprise.

The City of Surprise has scheduled two virtual public meetings; the next being on Tuesday, April 13 at 6 p.m. Residents have until May 2nd to comment on the re-write. For more information on the public meetings and 60-day-comment period, please visit surpriseaz.gov/PMO.

Important Information for Southwest Gas Customers

Southwest Gas is transforming their customer information system from the ground up on Monday, May 3, 2021, to provide an improved customer experience along with enhanced security. For important information on how this will impact you and the way your account will be serviced, please visit swgas.com/new4u. The site will provide regular updates and tools to help you navigate the new system.

CARES Act Funding Update

City Council and staff have been intentional in how CARES Act money would be dispersed to help our residents, businesses, and our most vulnerable population. Federal, state and county leadership assisted in helping so many in need through this COVID crisis. Our job, at the local level, was to evaluate and serve the underserved. We focused on where our CARES Act allocations could help those that were not getting help elsewhere.

In September 2020, City Council approved dispersing $430,000 in funding to address COVID-19 community and business needs. $250,000 supported local businesses with fewer than 25 employees, with revenues less than $2 million. The funds helped pay staff, rent, utilities and administrative program costs. We also reviewed other shortfalls in senior meals, homeless outreach and water billing assistance and allocated $155,000 to these resources.

On November 3, City Council voted to disperse an additional $100,000 in Small Business Relief funding, while expecting the scope of assistance to include small business retailers and non-profits with commercial space who were not restricted by the Governor’s Executive Orders. City Council also approved an additional $25,000 for water utility payment relief (the first round was $15,000).

AZ Cares Act dollar allocationl

The fully-utilized $350,000 Surprise Small Business Relief Grant was dispersed over two rounds, retained 483 local jobs, and helped 79 eligible local small businesses in the community. Eligible small business grant applicants fell into five categories ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 and had experienced either a mandatory business closure or severe capacity modification due to Governor Ducey’s Executive Orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surprise small business relief distribution.

Community Outreach Grant Program

The City of Surprise is pleased to announce the Community Outreach Program. The major purpose of the program is to provide funding assistance to organizations within the City of Surprise for programs, events, and activities to enhance the overall lifestyle of the community. Council has set aside up to $100,000 for FY2021-2022 for the Surprise Community Outreach Program in an effort to support and grow qualified local programs and events to improve the health and welfare of Surprise residents. For more information on how to apply, please visit surpriseaz.gov/communityoutreachprogram

New Council Conversations Show – City Development Update

Watch Mayor Skip Hall’s new Council Conversations show for an update on development across the city, including the emerging commercial growth corridors of Surprise City Center and the Prasada Loop 303!

Mayor Hall interviews representatives from each of the development groups for those areas – Carefree Partners Vice President Scott Phillips and Founder & CEO of Simon CRE Joshua Simon. He also talks about the growth of employment projects in the area with Greater Phoenix Economic Council President & CEO Chris Camacho.

March 2021 • Newsletter

Surprise Day of Service

The City of Surprise Human Services and Community Vitality Department is seeking volunteers for Day of Service events on March 20 and March 31. On Saturday, March 20, volunteers will participate in various projects throughout the city including landscaping, painting, trimming of shrubs, debris removal, and more. On Wednesday, March 31, volunteers will meet at St. Mary’s Food Bank to help in the process of providing food to families in need. Registration is required for both events, and COVID-19 protocols will be in place.

For more information, please visit surpriseaz.gov/dayofservice. To volunteer, contact Larry Garcia at 623.222.1522 or larry.garcia@surpriseaz.gov.

National Community Survey

It’s time to share your thoughts on living in Surprise! In February, select households received a mailed invitation to take the 2021 National Community Survey, and this month the entire community will be invited to take part online. Survey responses will be collected on various topics ranging from traffic flow to public safety to senior and youth services. Results will be used by city officials to prioritize projects for Surprise and indicate where limited city funding should go based on services most desired.

Details on how to participate in the survey will be provided at surpriseaz.gov in the next couple of weeks. Results are expected to be shared on the city website, surpriseaz.gov, in May. To view previous results to the National Community Survey, please visit surpriseaz.gov/ncs

Greenway Road Expansion Project Update

The work on the 10 voter-approved Decide Surprise General Obligation Bond projects continues; several of these projects are projected to be completed this year. The Greenway Road improvement project will add two travel lanes and eliminate areas of the roadway that have multiple lanes merging into one lane. As part of this work, a hard closure of Greenway road is in place through Sunday, March 14, from Northwest Ranch Parkway to Legacy Park Boulevard. The project is estimated to be complete by November, weather permitting.

Drivers can expect roadway restrictions, traffic control changes, and reduced speed limits throughout the duration of the project. Learn more about the Greenway Road project and view a complete list of voter-approved Decide Surprise General Obligation Bond Projects online at surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise.

Parks & Recreation Awarded “Better Sports for Kids Quality Program”

The Parks and Recreation Department has achieved the “Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider” designation, by the National Alliance for Youth Sports!

This honor demonstrates that the city has taken steps to ensure a safe and quality playing environment for children by meeting key requirements in five categories: Written Policies and Procedures, Volunteer Screening, Coach Training, Parent Education, and Accountability. Congratulations to the Parks & Recreation team!

Spring Training 2021

Spring Training is in full swing here in the Surprise for the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers! We worked in collaboration with local and state health authorities, the Cactus League, Major League Baseball, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and other destination partners to develop protocols to protect the health and safety of our fans—all while maintaining the fun and unforgettable experience of Spring Training.

Some of those protocols include reduced touchpoints, contactless ticketing, new intensified cleaning protocols, and reduced seating capacity for social distancing. For more information about Spring Training, please visit SurpriseStadium.com or call 623.222.2222.

Resident Recognition

Surprise resident, Ken Johanson, repairs and refurbishes bikes and provides them to at-risk children through schools and local non-profit H.A.R.T. Pantry. In the last two years, Ken has fixed and refurbished over 160 bikes! Congresswoman Debbie Lesko recently recognized this Surprise resident for his servant heart.

Surprise resident Ken Johanson receiving a certificate.

January 2021 • Newsletter

As we enter the new year, I would like to extend warm wishes and gratitude to our community. I am continually in awe at our capacity to imagine, create and act. Thank you to each and every one of you who has made this community what it is, including our staff who have gone above and beyond. Individually and as a city we have experienced many changes in 2020, and despite the unexpected detours we’ve faced, we have reasons for optimism.

The City of Surprise is entering into a solid financial position in 2021, which is largely due to our strong economy, our approach to COVID and conservative decisions. We have endured revenue losses mainly in two of our departments, Sports and Tourism and Parks and Recreation due to cancelations of a full Spring Training season, tournaments, and recreation programs.

Earlier this year, we asked you to participate in the 2020 Census. An amazing 71.2% of our households self-responded, that’s higher than the 65.8% self-response rate in 2010! After Census workers visited homes, 99.9% of households in Arizona were counted. This participation makes a tangible difference for our city and state, as an accurate count helps attract federal dollars to Surprise to support a variety of programs and helps our city get its share of funding and resources for the next 10 years.

This was a banner year for capital improvements, though due to focus on COVID and reducing in person events and celebrations, some in our community might have missed these milestones. The year began with the February dedication of our third library located in the Asante community. Just up the road and a few months later, the Surprise Fire & Medical department moved in and began operations from the permanent Fire Station 304, located at 163rd Avenue and San Ysidro. The 44,000 square foot Public Works Operations Facility built at Cactus and Litchfield roads is now complete and under full operation. Two sorely needed road-widening projects were completed (Waddell Road & Litchfield Road), significantly improving traffic safety, while also igniting economic development of adjacent properties. We also saw the first “Flashing Yellow” turn signals introduced to our city with this modification planned at many other intersections moving forward.

Meanwhile, several projects are underway with completion expected this coming year. This includes the full buildout of Greenway Road between Cotton Lane and Sarival Avenue. The new Fire Station 308, which will be the City’s first fire station located in the southeast portion of Surprise. And 2021 will also bring the completion of the Public Safety Evidence & Readiness Center as well as the Police Training facility, both of which are critical to meeting the public safety needs of our growing community. These represent some of the most noteworthy city projects; however, growth is occurring in nearly every corner of the city with improvements added almost every month.

While unprecedented challenges may linger, I know we will continue to remain strong and resilient. I think about all that has happened in 11 months. I would like to personally thank everyone for their patience, flexibility, understanding, innovation, respect for each other’s health and forward thinking as we collectively work through unprecedented times. We still have things to learn, overcome and accomplish, but I am beyond grateful to serve a community that unites through tough times. Residents can rest assured that your Surprise City Council will continue providing the best services possible during this pandemic.

Wishing you a new year full of peace, health, abundance and prosperity.

Mayor and Councilmembers in Districts 2, 3 & 4 sworn in

The first Regular City Council Meeting of the New Year included the swearing-in ceremonies for mayor and three councilmembers. 

Skip Hall was sworn in as Mayor after winning the seat in the August Primary Election. He previously served as Mayor by appointment, following a mayoral resignation in November 2018. 

Newly elected Councilmember Aly Cline was sworn in as District 2 Councilmember.

Re-elected Councilmember Patrick Duffy was sworn into office to serve District 3.  

Re-elected Councilmember Ken Remley took the oath of office to serve District 4.

Each elected official was sworn in to a four-year term. 

District 5 Councilmember Jack Hastings was sworn into office in November, per state law, after defeating an appointed councilmember for that district in the August Primary Election. He will serve a two-year term.

For more information about each of the councilmembers, please visit their websites: 

https://mayor.surpriseaz.gov
https://d2.surpriseaz.gov
https://d3.surpriseaz.gov
https://d4.surpriseaz.gov
https://d5.surpriseaz.gov

Council will select a Vice Mayor at the next regular Council meeting, scheduled for January 19 at 6 p.m. City Council meetings are televised on Surprise TV and streamed live on the internet at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv.

December 2020 • Newsletter

As 2020 draws to a close, I wanted to take this last opportunity of the year to publicly thank you – the residents of Surprise – for your patience and support this trying year. We have had some challenges that none of us could have ever predicted, but we’ve been able to accomplish so many great things despite those obstacles.

Surprise Party 2020 Coming to You!

While the 19th Annual Surprise Party may be going virtual or remote this year, our holiday spirit remains alive and well with a festive lineup of holiday themed programming that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home or car! From cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, to a video tree-lighting event and a Santa drive-thru, Surprise Party – At Home has something for everyone December 4 – 13!

Mark your calendars and tune in for the virtual tree lighting that will kick off these events on Friday, December 4 at 7 pm. The video events will be aired on Surprise TV online and the City of Surprise Parks and Recreation Facebook Page. On-demand video playback will be available for recorded events. Just visit surpriseaz.gov/surpriseparty and view the video recording at your convenience.

City of Surprise Annual DECK THE HOCK Event

The city’s annual Deck the Hock on Hollyhock Street will be a drop-off / pick-up style celebration this year! You are invited to drop off ornaments for three holiday trees on display in front of the Surprise Senior Center and leave gifts under them for three local families in need. We will also have a drop-box for our Surprise Police Department’s annual toy drive available. While you are there, you can pick up a hot cocoa and cookie to-go!

Deck the Hock will be held Friday, December 11 from 12-5 p.m. at the Surprise Senior Center, 15832 N. Hollyhock St. This is not a stay and gather event. Please stop by during that timeframe to drop-off gifts and ornaments and pick-up treats only. Masks are required, and social distancing measures will be in place.

Greenway Road Expansion Project Update

Construction of the voter-approved Greenway Road improvement project will begin December 3. The project will finish the south half of Greenway Road from 800 feet west of Loop 303 to 1600 feet east of Loop 303 (approximately Cotton Lane to Sarival Avenue), adding two travel lanes and eliminating areas of the roadway that have multiple lanes merging into one lane. In addition to more travel lanes, the project includes turn lanes, drainage infrastructure, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, street lighting and landscaping.

There will be lane restrictions on Greenway Road east and westbound approaching the Loop 303. One lane in each direction will be maintained and turning movements will not be affected. From Monday, December 7 until Friday, April 2, 2021, left turns will be restricted from Greenway Road onto Northwest Ranch Parkway and from Northwest Ranch Parkway onto Greenway Road. During this time, the access point at Northwest Ranch Parkway and Greenway Road will be right-in/right-out only.

Drivers can expect roadway restrictions, traffic control changes and reduced speed limits throughout the duration of the project, which is scheduled to be complete in November 2021, weather permitting. Learn more about the Greenway Road project and view a complete list of voter-approved Decide Surprise General Obligation Bond Projects online at surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise.

Surprise Police Department Awarded Reaccreditation

Congratulations to the Surprise Police Department for achieving accredited status with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) for the fifth consecutive time since 2007!

The purpose of the accreditation program is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by maintaining a body of standards developed by public safety practitioners. To receive accreditation, agencies participate in a four-year process during which there is a comprehensive examination of all aspects of the agency’s policies, procedures, management, operations, and support services.

City of Surprise Public Meetings have Reclosed to In-Person Attendance

In an effort to protect public health amidst rising COVID-19 case numbers, City of Surprise public meetings have reclosed to in-person public attendance until further notice. This includes meetings of City Council and all city boards and commissions. Virtual viewing and public comment options are available, and instructions can be found on the meetings agendas at www.surpriseaz.gov/agendas.

City Bond Projects Breaking Ground

Work to complete the 10 voter-approved Decide Surprise General Obligation Bond projects continues. Construction has recently begun on the Public Safety Evidence and Readiness Center at 134th and Foxfire drives, and the Police Training Facility is in for permit for the same site. Both are expected to be complete next fall. This week, the widening of Greenway Road near the Loop 303 begins, and next week Fire Station 308 at Litchfield and Cactus roads breaks ground. The fire station is estimated to be complete in late 2021, and the road project should be complete by November 2021. With the start of these projects, all building and road construction projects planned as part of the bond have been completed or are underway.

Spring Training 2021

Spring Training season is just a few months away and the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals have released their 2021 Spring Training schedule, revealing their game times and season opener featuring the Texas Rangers vs. the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, February 27.

At Surprise Stadium, we’re working hard to develop protocols to protect the health and safety of our fans—all while maintaining the fun and unforgettable experience of Spring Training. Your safety is important to us! We have been working to develop health and safety measures specific to the Spring Training experience after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and international health authorities, Major League Baseball, and destination partners.

The next time you visit Surprise Stadium, you will notice that we have taken additional steps to protect your safety, including reduced touch points, contactless ticketing, new intensified cleaning protocols and reduced seating capacity for social distancing. We look forward to sharing additional details as they become available.

For questions or more information about Spring Training, please visit SurpriseStadium.com or call 623.222.2222.

May you enjoy all the simple gifts the holiday season brings to us – the gift of happiness, the gift of joy, the gift of gratitude and the gift of love. Wishing you the very best gifts this Christmas and many better tomorrows with the New Year.

November 2020 • Newsletter

Fall is here, and we finally get relief from the heat. With the holidays rapidly approaching, I hope we find time to reflect on the positives with so much negativity surrounding us. Last month, we celebrated Arizona League of Cities and Towns Week and focused our gratitude on essential workers in municipal departments. There are so many people, community heroes, who help our residents and those in need, whether it be our Public Safety departments, our Human Service and Community Vitality Department and so many others. I thank them for what they do every day to keep us functioning, especially in the times of uncertainty and fluidity.

Speaking of gratitude, I wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank Councilman David Sanders for his service to District 5 and the residents and businesses in Surprise. Dave Sanders served the city in multiple capacities years before he was appointed to his seat, having been a five-year member of the Surprise Community and Recreation Services Advisory Board, as well as a volunteer member of the Capital Improvement Funding Exploration Committee. Dave has been instrumental with all of our successes since he has been on Council, including utilizing his professional experience and skills with banking and finance to help the city through this pandemic and to assist our businesses that needed help to continue their services for our residents. Thank you, Dave Sanders, for sharing your talents and intellect; for your sacrifices and commitment to Surprise!

Welcome to City Council, Councilman Jack Hastings! Councilman Hastings took the Oath of Office on Tuesday, November 3. Mr. Hastings teaches US Civics at Valley Vista High School. We look forward to working with you in this capacity.

APS is in the early stages of a public siting process to identify routes in the city of Surprise for new 230kV power lines to best meet current and future needs. With the arrival of high-tech companies, such as the new Microsoft facility in El Mirage, and their load demands, these lines are needed to address reliability and flexibility. The 230kV power lines will need to connect the new Conrail Substation (located in El Mirage near the southeast corner of Olive Avenue and Dysart Road) to existing 230kV facilities. The poles will be between 115-195 feet tall and placed in new or existing rights-of-way or easements up to 120 feet in width. If you would like a say in where the poles are located, please visit www.apswestvalleycentral.com. The Virtual Open House page allows you to leave comments. The comment period is open now through November 20. Additionally, another Live Virtual Town Hall meeting will be hosted on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 from 6-7:30 p.m. You can register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/APSlivechat. For more information on the project, please visit www.aps.com/westvalleycentral.

City Council voted Monday night to disperse an additional $100,000 in Small Business Relief Grant funding, while expanding the scope of assistance to include small business retailers and non-profits with commercial space who were not restricted by the Governor’s executive orders. Council also approved an additional $25,000 for water utility payment relief.

Like the original grant program, which closed October 30, the Small Business Relief Grant 2.0 program seeks to distribute funding to businesses in Surprise who have been affected by COVID-19, have fewer than 25 employees and less than $2 million in revenues. The grant dollars are intended to assist with rent, utilities, payroll expenses and other necessary operating costs.

The grant categories are as follows:

  • Category 1 (up to $1,500): Hair salons, barber shops, massage therapy, nail salons
  • Category 2 (up to $2,500): Restaurants with no indoor or no fully enclosed dining
  • Category 3a (up to $5,000): Restaurants with indoor or fully enclosed dining; Small (less than 4,500 sf) fitness, dance, yoga, gymnastics studios/centers/facilities etc.
  • NEW! Category 3b (up to $5,000): Non-profits in commercial space
  • NEW! Category 3c (up to $5,000): Retail businesses in commercial space
  • Category 4 (up to $7,500): Bars / series 6 or 7 licenses
  • Category 5 (up to $10,000): Large (more than 4,500 sf) Gyms, Fitness clubs

Applications for the Small Business Relief Grant 2.0 program are expected to open the week of November 9 and close December 11, 2020 or until funds last. Applying for the grant does not guarantee that funding will be awarded, and each business entity may apply only once. Businesses who were awarded funding as part of the original grant program, are not eligible for additional funding through the 2.0 program. For eligibility requirements, the application and more, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/smallbusinessgrant. (Please note this information may not be available until the application period opens).

City Council also approved $25,000 to help qualifying residents pay their water bills. This comes after $15,000 was approved by Council for this purpose in September and has since been depleted. For assistance, please call the Surprise Resource Center HOPE line at 623.222.4673.

Last month, Ottawa University Arizona (OUAZ) received the Excellence in Innovation award at WESTMARC’s Annual Best of the West Awards. WESTMARC – the Western Maricopa Coalition – is a public-private partnership of 15 West Valley communities, the business community and the education sector. The Best of the West Awards recognizes outstanding contributions to the image, lifestyle and economy of the West Valley.

Veterans Day is around the corner. If you picked up a sign to decorate for our veterans, those decorated signs need to be dropped off at our Parks and Recreation Services department by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 6. The signs will be displayed on Bullard Avenue, near Surprise Stadium on Tuesday, November 10, Veterans Day – Wednesday, November 11; and Thursday, November 12 until 5 p.m.

To all American veterans who we owe a tremendous amount of debt, to ALL American veterans who chose to set aside their goals, ambitions and dreams, to all American veterans who have put their lives on the line for our freedom and who have sacrificed so very much – Surprise THANKS you!

While COVID may have canceled our traditional in-person Surprise Party Celebration this coming December, our Parks & Recreation Department is working with the Marketing & Communications Team to get us all in the holiday spirit with a week-long virtual Surprise Party experience! The City Council’s Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony will kick things off at 7 p.m. on December 4. Musical performances will also be part of this programming. You can view it on Surprise TV and online at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv at 7 p.m. Later in the week, Zoom calls with Santa, Holiday Bingo, Holiday & Crafts with WHAM, and Santa Drive Thru events are scheduled. There is even a Light Up the Night house-decorating contest planned. We’ll have all the details available soon at www.surpriseaz.gov.