Renton Mayor Denis Law delivered his 2012 State of the City address before a packed audience at a luncheon organized by the Renton Chamber of Commerce. The State of the City address demonstrated how the city has weathered hard economic times and challenges, and despite those challenges, continues to grow and thrive. The Mayor illustrated how he has kept his promise to the community and delivered on programs and services.
"Last year, I promised to continue to build on our partnership with The Boeing Company and advance the aerospace industry in Renton," said Mayor Law. "We kept that promise. ."
The Mayor stated that overall Renton's economy has diversified and grown. The number of jobs in the city increased by 9% between 2010 and 2011, and not just at Boeing. The city had about 170 more businesses registered by the end of last year than the year before.
He also emphasized the city's focus on innovation, efficiency, and improved productivity despite budget challenges.
"The city you see today is more refined, said Law. "It is leaner, it is stronger, and I believe it's strategically prepared to meet the challenges of the future."
The Mayor emphasized significant progress in his efforts to reduce crime in Renton. Renton is one of the safest cities in South King County. Crime rate has dropped for the sixth consecutive year and is over 30 percent lower than it was in 2007.
The Mayor also emphasized the important of Renton's community programs, including parks and recreation programs, human services, the Neighborhood Program, Farmers Market, and our festivals and event.
"These programs and events bring tremendous value to our citizens," said Law. "They also bring tourists and visitors to our restaurants and stores. They fill hotel rooms and provide entertainment for our families, while boosting the local economy."
He mentioned the importance of investing in infrastructure and highlighted the significant projects that are underway including major improvements to Rainier Avenue, SW 27th/Strander Boulevard and Garden Avenue.
The mayor highlighted several accomplishments and priorities:
Economic Development and Planning
- Continue strong partnership with The Boeing Company-they already have over 1,000 orders for 737 MAX, and 2,300 for the 737 Next Generation. They plan to produce over 42 airplanes a month and hire 600 to 800 people this year.
- As part of Washington State Aerospace Partnership, working on establishing the Renton Aerospace Training Center at the Renton Airport with $2.5 million in appropriations funding from Olympia.
- Renton actually gained jobs during the recession-a 2% overall increase in total jobs. New companies have opened in Renton such as Sealed Air, the inventors of bubble wrap.
- PACCAR's Kenworth truck division has hired 540 people and is producing 18 trucks a day.
- Several investments in the millions of dollars from SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Towneplace Suites, Brotherton Cadillac and Good Chevrolet for business improvements.
- Continue to see growth in The Landing and revitalization in downtown Renton and the Highlands.
- Over 3,000 people participated and helped develop several major plans including the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Natural Resources Plan; City Center Plan; Sunset Area Revitalization Plan; Renton History Museum Plan; Arts & Culture Master Plan; Trails and Bicycles Plan; and Shoreline Master Plan.
Crime Prevention and Public Safety:
- Implemented trail safety initiative with speed limits, trail striping, signage and education, and volunteer park rangers.
- Utilized Special Operations unit to target repeat offenders; expelled offenders who repeatedly engaged in criminal activity from our parks and transit center.
- Anti-graffiti program resulted in 60% reduction in graffiti.
- Passed an ordinance to hold "nuisance" property owners criminally responsible for allowing criminal behavior and illegal activity on their properties.
- Fire and Emergency Services Department responded to 12,800 calls for service within 5 minutes; kept community safe during winter storms and used innovative methods such as social media and neighborhood displays in multiple languages to communicate with our community.
- Celebrated Renton Heart Month and provided free blood sugar and blood pressure screenings for over 10,000 people; specifically reached out to over 2,000 members of our various ethnic and non-English speaking communities.
Streets, Transportation and Infrastructure
- Starting construction on the $40 million Rainier Avenue project that adds new lanes, improves traffic flow, and enhances pedestrian use and safety.
- Working on major improvements on SW 27th/Strander Blvd, Garden Avenue, and NE 3rd/4th in the Highlands
- Community Services received coveted national accreditation and city parks, trails and golf course and recreation programs provided high-quality services to the community.
- Over 4,000 people attended the Farmers Market each week; record attendance at several festivals; strengthened and expanded the Neighborhood Program.
- Successfully hosted the Seattle International Film Festival and the Seahawks Training Camp, expecting record participation again this year.
Moving Forward with a "Green" Agenda:
- Launched the city's Clean Economy strategy to help lower operating costs through energy-saving and resource efficiency measures, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; significantly reduced paper use in city operations.
- Renton's recycling program is one of the best in the country-residents diverted 70% of their garbage.
- Entire fleet of garbage trucks in Renton converted to compressed natural gas-saving money, reducing noise, and protecting the environment.
- Installed 13 public charging stations for electric vehicles.
"When I'm describing Renton to others, I emphasize that this is a community with heart and soul," said Law. "Renton is a special place and it's because of you-the people who live, work, learn and play here, and proudly call Renton your home."
The Mayor's address will be broadcast on Renton's TV channel 21 and video-streamed on rentonwa.gov. Check http://rentonwa.gov/news/default.aspx?id=5460 for the broadcast schedule. To read the Mayor's full State of the City message, please visit rentonwa.gov.
*Editor's Note: Information Provide by the City of Renton.