“The future for Roswell has never been brighter, and Roswell has never been in a stronger position than we are in right now,” the mayor stated, both at the outset of his speech to the Historic Roswell Kiwanis on Thursday and at the very end.
The city council and volunteer boards are “working together as never before,” Wood said, adding praise for the work of city staff as well as Roswell ’s civic organizations and nonprofits.
The city is running so well and has gained such widespread recognition that accolades just keep piling up, the mayor said.
“We’re at the point that awards don’t mean as much because we’ve got so many of them,” he said jokingly.
Fiscally sound and providing the same high service levels even though revenues have been flat and costs are increasing, Roswell has also been able to pay down its debt, from $36 million in 2008 to $11 million in 2012, Wood said.
“In the big picture, if you look at the net liquidity of the city, in 2008 it was $54 million. In 2012, the money in the bank, less debt, is up to $64 million,” the mayor said.
“And we’ve still maintained our level of services while increasing liquidity by $10 million. That’s a story I don’t think any other city can tell.”
One of the trend the city is seeing is a need for “high quality, high end rental housing” to accommodate empty nesters and the young professional class, including those who may be filling the new jobs General Motors is bringing to Roswell.
“Our population is getting older and growth is slowing and it’s more competitive to attract people. The ‘young and restless’ creative class has different expectations than we did when I was young. They want the same things as seniors, a walkable community with all the amenities,” Wood said. “It’s a trend that’s new to us and needs recognizing.”
With recent regulatory changes enacted, such as form-based zoning, areas such as the Groveway community district are open to that kind of development, the mayor said.
Projects that improve transportation support economic development, Wood said, and in 2013, the city will be considering some that are key. Roswell has $4 million in reserves that could be spent for transportation initiatives, the mayor said, and he will be encouraging council to do just that.
One such project is connecting Warsaw Road with Sun Valley Road, a project Wood said he would like to see fast tracked since the new GM facility is at the far end of Warsaw Road.
“You can draw a line and connect it with Sun Valley. We already own the right of way,” he said Friday. “The council has already informally greenlighted the Sun Valley connector, although it’s not official yet. There will be hearings and we’ll hear from the public. But it’s a high priority.”