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.
The city just ended FY20 and embarked on FY21 on July 1. As we begin our new fiscal year and reflect on the last six months of 2020, I have no doubt that we are all thinking “what a year” it has been. It could not have been more unpredictable. As we continue to grapple with this pandemic that is challenging our country, communities and local economies, no matter where you stand on this situation, I think we can agree that there are demands facing us and we need to work together to address them head on. We can agree to disagree, but do so respectfully. There has been so much uncertainty with the virus, and information seems to change on a daily basis. Please understand as elected officials, we are doing our best with the information provided to us to protect everyone.
The Surprise City Council mourns the tragic loss of Surprise resident and Peoria Police Officer Jason Judd. Officer Judd was a 20 year veteran with Peoria Police Department as well as a U.S. Air Force veteran. He was a husband, father, and friend to many. Our hearts are with his family and the entire law enforcement community during this difficult time.
The 2020 Census is currently underway! Surprise residents should have received an invitation to complete the 2020 Census. I am happy to see that just over 66% of our households have already responded. This is the first time in Census history that residents can respond online at my2020census.gov. You can also respond via phone at 844.330.2020. The questionnaire is available in English and 59 other languages. Please take a moment to complete it. A complete count is critical to our future. The information collected guides the distribution of more than $675 billion to states annually and helps us plan critical infrastructure like roads and water, etc. It should take no more than 10 minutes of your time to complete. All responses are confidential and protected by federal law. The deadline to submit (August 14, 2020) your information was extended due to COVID-19. For more information, please visit surpriseaz.gov/census2020.
The primary election will be held on Tuesday, August 4. The ballot will include five local City Council seats. The local seats to be filled are Mayor, District 2 (Cottonwood), District 3 (Mesquite), District 4 (Mulberry) and District 5 (Palm). All of the aforementioned terms, with the exception of District 5, will end December 2024. The District 5 seat will end December 2022. The first day to cast early ballots was July 8. The last day to request a ballot via mail is July 24, with the last day to mail your ballot being July 29.
Surprise City Hall is a designated voting center. The City Hall Community Room is open for voting now through August 4 for any Maricopa County resident to cast a ballot in person. To access the Community Room, please enter through the north or south entrance of City Hall at the Mayor’s Atrium (eastern end of the building). All other entrances are closed at this time due to COVID-19. Additionally, for the primary election, Maricopa County voters can choose any Voting Center that works for them to cast a ballot in-person. Please visit Locations.Maricopa.Vote for all locations.
The city resumed drop-off recycling on July 7. Residents can bring acceptable materials to the Public Works North Yard, 17274 N. Litchfield Road, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 am until 11 am and 1 pm until 3 pm. Proof of residency will be required. This is our first step to resuming our recycling program, which was temporarily suspended last August due to rising program operations costs and decreasing value of recyclables. We continue to actively research cost-effective and sustainable solutions for processing recycling curbside. For more information, including FAQs about the drop-off program, please visit surpriseaz.gov.
I wanted to thank our entire City Council and City Management team for their outstanding work this past year. Despite the stress and unknowns of the current crisis, the city has had many successes. We’ve worked together to accomplish so much that would not have been possible if we didn’t work as a team. Thank you to our residents for their continued support and outreach to us. We represent you, and it’s important we hear from you. I can assure you that your City Council listens to you and represents you at the dais. I am extremely happy with the direction of the city. There will be some upcoming announcements concerning economic development soon that I’m sure will please you. We’ve been actively working with the businesses in Surprise to see how we can support them. We’ve lobbied Maricopa County and requested additional grant possibilities through their CARES Act funding. We have talked to our US Senators and advocated for our businesses and residents during this crisis. We are here for you!
On a personal note, I wanted to let you know that I am fully recovered from COVID-19, having thankfully had a mild case, and have been out of quarantine for a week. I appreciated the outpouring of prayers, support and emails I received while I was recovering.
As a friendly reminder, our first City Council meeting of the new fiscal year is Tuesday, August 18 at 6 pm.
This has been a unique time in history for us with many things slowing down or pausing for the protection of public health. But in the midst of all this, development in Surprise has continued to flourish, and there are some exciting things to look forward to.
For the foodies in the city, we have a new ice cream shop, Handel’s Ice Cream, and Mexican restaurant, Mr. Mesquite Taqueria in the Prasada / Loop 303 corridor. A Starbucks is also set to open in the area.
Costco continues to move forward with a newly advertised opening timeline of this fall. I know that many of you are excited for the doors to open, and it won’t be long now!
Our city’s first microhospital is hiring and almost ready to open. Abrazo Surprise Hospital expands our city’s ability to care for community health – something we deeply understand the need for during this time.
A second Legacy Traditional School is under construction in the city at the northwest corner of Cotton Lane and Cactus Road, adjacent to the city’s first luxury resort-style community, Sterling Grove by Toll Brothers! Education is an important foundation for a sustainable community, and we are lucky to have quality options for our children here in Surprise.
City Center also has some big projects in the pipeline. Several new multi-family residential projects are in process, including a new housing facility for the Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball team. The facility will be built north of Greenway Road and east of Bullard Avenue. Now, both the Royals and Rangers will have a home here year-round. Plus, a new Springhill Suites Marriott is under review in City Center.
Additionally, Mera City Center Apartments is under construction on Greenway Road. This development is a resort-style, 55+ active adult community. My office received several concerns once City Council approved the site plan so I wanted to take this opportunity to elaborate on it. The City Center Planned Area Development (PAD) allows this type of development. The PAD was approved by Council on January 11, 2001 which was long before any of the current Council served on City Council. City Council cannot arbitrarily deny a project that is in compliance with zoning and all other development requirements. This project complied with all zoning and city development regulations and standards, therefore, it was approved.
In the Surprise Rail Plex industrial district, 36,000 square feet of flexible storefront industrial, retail and office space was just completed, growing options for commercial and industrial businesses.
The wide range of development happening across the city right now shows that we are maturing, growing and able to support an exciting mix of new projects.
When the Census wraps up this year, we are aiming to have a complete count of our population. The data from the Census helps businesses decide where to locate. It’s just one of the many reasons that it’s important to fill out the survey. If you haven’t already, please take it online at www.my2020census.gov. You can also call 844-330-2020 or send in the paper form that was mailed to you.
New businesses aren’t the only thing we are celebrating right now. Our Economic Development team has been hosting Virtual Ribbon Cuttings to help local businesses get the word out that they have reopened. When you support your local restaurants and retail stores, you not only help keep unique offerings here in Surprise, you also create local jobs and keep tax dollars at home where they can be used for parks, street maintenance, police and fire-medical.
Little by little, we are returning to some sort of normalcy with our events as well. I am happy to say that the city will feature a 20-minute fireworks display on July 4 beginning at 8:40 p.m. The display will be staged in the area around Bullard Avenue and Paradise Lane. While we share in our community’s excitement to celebrate our nation’s independence, it’s important to do so responsibly. As a result of COVID-19 concerns, this year’s Fourth of July Celebration will be greatly modified in an effort to avoid mass gatherings and maintain physical distancing, in accordance with CDC recommendations.
I am proud to be the mayor of a city that understands the importance of community and the value of supporting each other. As we look forward, remember to be kind and think safe, Surprise. We will return stronger than ever!
Thank you for signing up for Mayor updates. It is my goal to email you a monthly newsletter with information regarding current events and items that may be of interest to you. If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate in contacting me at email@example.com or 623.222.1313 or 623.451.3975. Also, please feel free to visit my webpage at https://mayor.surpriseaz.gov/. Please follow me on Facebook (facebook.com/SkipHallD5), Twitter (@SkipHall2), and Instagram (@SkipforSurprise).
Census 2020 Starts This Month
Census 2020 is here and for the first time in the history of the U.S. Census you will be able to respond online!
Between March 12-20, you will receive a letter in the mail with a website address and Census ID number explaining how to respond online. The letter will also offer a toll free number for phone response and describe the process for receiving a paper survey.
The information you provide on the Census counts for jobs, new roads, emergency services and more! Learn additional reasons why you should take the Census and view commonly asked questions at surpriseaz.gov/Census2020.
Dedication of Ottawa University’s New Buildings
February 21 was a special day in Surprise as City Council helped dedicate three new OUAZ buildings – the O’Dell Center, OUAZ Student Union and Scholars Hall! The new buildings and amenities, coupled with OUAZ’s world-class education, are sure to bring more vitality and award-winning talent to Surprise City Center.
Texas Rangers Player Housing Ribbon Cutting
Rangers Village in Surprise City Center is officially open! Surprise City Council joined the Texas Rangers for the official ribbon cutting on Friday, February 21. The 68,280 square foot facility provides year-round housing for up to 180 Texas Rangers organizational players and staff. Thanks to the Rangers for their continued commitment to Surprise!
Spring Training Welcome Back Luncheon
We welcomed Spring Training back to Surprise during the Spring Training Welcome Back Luncheon on February 14. We spent a wonderful afternoon at Surprise Stadium learning about what’s in store for the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals ball clubs this season.
If you haven’t been to a Spring Training game at Surprise Stadium, then you are striking out! Surprise Stadium has several promotions on tickets, food and drinks for families, military, and residents of Surprise, Sun City, Sun City West, Youngtown, El Mirage and Waddell.
Tickets are available online and in person by visiting the Surprise Stadium Box Office. For a complete list of scheduled games, special events and ticket options, please visit www.SurpriseStadium.com.
Surprise Retail Survey
Have you taken the Surprise Retail Survey yet? Your input helps the city identify retail strengths within the community, as well as opportunities to bring additional amenities closer to home. Every response helps the Surprise Economic Development Department better reach the retailers you want the most.
It’s important to us that we attract businesses you want, because the money you spend here, stays here. In fact, local sales tax makes up nearly 40 percent of our city’s General Fund revenues which support public safety, clean parks and street maintenance.
The city of Surprise is recruiting new members for the Surprise Youth Council (SYC) – a group of impactful teens who are making a difference in their community!
SYC members serve the community by collaborating with local leaders, including the Mayor and City Council, to give youth a voice in city issues and to help solve youth issues through awareness campaigns, service projects, and community-building events.
Students who are currently in grades 7-11 may apply, as long as they are attending a middle school or high school within the Surprise city limits, attending a Dysart Unified School District high school, or reside within Surprise city limits.
The City of Surprise FY2021 budget building process is underway. A series of presentations to Council will take place over the next few months. The recommended budget is scheduled for release in April, followed by public review and a final adoption in June. Please stay tuned to the upcoming Council Meetings for the overall development of the budget and upcoming annual process. You can watch previous preservations at www.surpriseaz.gov/budget.
Babe Ruth League registration open; volunteer coaches needed
Surprise is now offering registration for the West Valley Babe Ruth Baseball League! Both individual and team registration is available; league play begins in late April.
Resident and non-resident registration will be held through March 20 at the Parks & Recreation Office, located at 15960 N Bullard Ave. Registration is also available online at www.surpriseaz.gov/recreation.
We are in need of volunteer coaches for the 13-15 Babe Ruth Division! If you are interested, stop by the Parks & Recreation Office to complete a volunteer application. For more information, please contact Jason Bond at 623.222.2238 or visit www.surpriseaz.gov/recreation.
Expanded Surprise Resource Center Hours
The city’s one-stop-shop for social services has expanded its evening hours. The Surprise Resource Center has extended its closing hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The new hours are: Monday & Tuesday: 8 a.m – 5 p.m.; Wednesday & Thursday: – 8 a.m – 7 p.m.; Friday: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Through strategic partnerships with a growing number of community-based organizations and government agencies, the center offers Surprise and Northwest Valley residents connections to human services that include everything from rent and utility assistance to employment support to food and nutrition resources.
The Surprise Resource Center is located within the city’s AZ TechCelerator campus at 12425 W Bell Road, Bldg. A, Ste. 124. For more information about the Surprise Resource Center, including a list of programs and partners, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/ResourceCenter.
Fire-Medical Assistant Chief Johnston Retires
Surprise Fire-Medical Assistant Chief Darrell Johnston retired in February after 30 years of fire service. It was my honor to present him with an Employee Appreciation Proclamation at our February 18 Regular Council Meeting. Thank you Chief Johnston for your dedication, leadership and service!
State of the City
The Surprise City Council invites you to attend the 2020 State of the City video presentation and 60th Anniversary Celebration on March 26 from 6-8 p.m.! We’ll take a look at significant achievements that have transformed our city and celebrate the progress we have made over the past 60 years.
Following the video presentation, city council will reveal a new history wall that tells the story of Surprise from founding day to modern day. This artistic mix of story and photograph is a must-see art piece.
After the reveal, we invite you to stroll the courtyard and city hall for a showcase of the city’s programs and services, including police and fire vehicle displays! We also have live entertainment planned, with performers from some of our local schools and city-run specialty classes. Plus, we’ll have free desserts and finger foods.
If you love baseball memorabilia, you’ll want to swing by city hall for the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” art reception! The Surprise Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission has a collection of baseball art and collectibles on display, as well as a few fun pieces from other sports.
The exhibit is in the Surprise City Hall art gallery and Mayor’s Atrium, 16000 Civic Center Dr., and runs through April 23. A free reception will be held Thursday, March 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. Come enjoy sports-themed artwork; historic, autographed Sports Illustrated covers; replica jackets; historic artifacts; and light refreshments.
Residential Waste Cleanup Event on March 14
Now is the time to prune your landscape and clean out your garage! The city’s annual Spring Cleanup Event is on Saturday, March 14.
Surprise residents are permitted to drop off up to 2,000 pounds of non-hazardous residential waste free-of-charge at the Northwest Regional Landfill, 19401 W. Deer Valley Road, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is a limit of one load per household.
Acceptable items include lawn waste and other household refuse.
Remember, you will be required to show proof of Surprise residency, via a driver’s license and utility bill showing the same home address.
For more information about the Spring Cleanup Event, call the Surprise Customer Service Line at 623.222.1900, or visit surpriseaz.gov/sanitation.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event
Surprise offers Household Hazardous Waste Collection events to help protect the environment by properly disposing items which may contain harmful chemicals. Scheduling will begin on March 9. Residents are able to request an appointment through the My Surprise app, or by calling Customer Service at 623.222.1920. For a complete list of acceptable items, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/hhwevent. I encourage you to take advantage of this free collection service!
Teen College Tours
Surprise Parks and Recreation has scheduled field trips to several Arizona universities for teens ages 13-18. Teens can sign up to tour the campuses of the University of Arizona (March 16), Arizona State University (March 17), Grand Canyon University (March 20) and Northern Arizona University (April 24). Spots are limited. Learn more at surpriseaz.gov/recreation.
Sunday in the Park Food Truck Festival
Spend an afternoon enjoying delicious food and listening to live music at the March 29 Sunday in the Park Food Truck Festival! Southbound will perform (Country/Southern Rock) while you enjoy a variety of delicious food trucks, as well as an assortment of beer and wine. This family-friendly event will also have various yard games, inflatables and face painting. Event admission is free; food and drink will be available for purchase. Don’t forget a blanket or lawn chair! Dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed.
Public Art Bus Tour
Join us on April 18 for a Public Art Bus Tour to view the “Cowgirl Up!” Exhibition at Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg! The bus departs from City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza, at 11 a.m. and returns at approximately 3 p.m. The bus ride is free; participants must pay the $9 museum entrance fee. Reserve your seat by calling 623.214.7537
Festival of the Arts at Valley Vista High School
On March 28, the Dysart Unified School District will be holding the second annual Dysart Festival of the Arts. The festival will take place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Valley Vista High School. This event will showcase the visual and performing arts programs from all twenty elementary schools and four high schools in the Dysart Unified School District.
The Dysart Arts Festival will be a day jam packed with performances on multiple stages to include various dance troops, theatre troops, choirs and bands. The elementary and high school visual arts programs will be hosting two showcases to include both 2D and 3D pieces. Learn more about the Festival of the Arts.
The City of Surprise invites interested outreach organizations, promotional vendors and local businesses to participate in the Spring Egg-stravaganza! The event will take place Saturday, April 11, from 7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at the Surprise Recreation Campus located at 15850 N. Bullard Avenue.
Spring Egg-stravaganza is a free event featuring fun for the whole family. The event will feature inflatables, face painting, a special appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and a series of egg hunts filled with fun toys and treats.
As a friendly reminder, upcoming City Council Meetings will be held on Tuesday, March 17, as well as Tuesday, April 7. City Council Work sessions begin at 4 p.m. while City Council Meetings follow at 6 p.m. We hope to see you there.