Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers took a look back at the city’s accomplishments in 2021 and then spent some time looking ahead to projects on the board for 2022.
While Covid-19 is still an overriding issue in so many ways, Beavers saw patches of daylight in 2021 and hopes that 2022 will bring even better news for Farmington.
Evaluating last year’s accomplishments in providing new housing for a growing population, Beavers said, “Last year we had the Koppeis family open up that property on the westside, which it was good to get that new housing going. In the senior community, we’ve had a number of developers add to our apartment complexes to provide additional housing.
“We were very pleased when the numbers were released from the census that showed we had a good, healthy growth rate in Farmington and a number of communities around us. Other things from a city standpoint, our businesses performed really strong last year as measured by sales tax growth. So, I think that a lot of the effects of 2020 where private business owners had a really difficult time, hopefully, saw some recovery in 2021. We were glad to see that.”
According to Beavers, the city finished stronger financially in 2021 than ever before and 2022 is looking even better.
“We finished our fiscal year on Sept. 30 in a very strong financial condition,” he said. “We get a little stronger every year, which is good for us. Of course, kind of a crowning moment for us, I suppose, was when the public safety sales tax passed in November. We provide exemplary service today, but this will allow us in 2022 to bolster our fire operations so we can provide service in the way we want to provide it.
“It’s the same thing with our police department. We’re getting our police and fire department salaries elevated because they slipped over time a little bit. We’ll have the pay structures where we can continue to recruit and retain very good police officers and firefighters in Farmington. That’s something measurable people see this year.”
Beavers discussed a number of public works improvements the city is tackling this year.
“These are improvements that are visible — that people will see,” he said. “We’re planning to reconstruct Weber Road which has a tremendous amount of traffic from the Panera Bread Company, back down. Of course, we’re putting sidewalks on that and stormwater drainage, and those kinds of things. It’s a short stretch of road, not a real long stretch of road, but it does have a lot of traffic.
“We’ll also have neighborhood street improvements going on around town. We’ve got some additional stormwater basin work that we’re doing. Folks downstream don’t realize how that benefits them, but in areas where they may have had their home compromised in a water drain event, we’ll take that margin down, so that a big rain event won’t threaten their home or property anymore. That’s what those basins are for — to alleviate those areas that may be a quarter of a mile from where we built the basin.
The city is also planning to do quite a bit of work on the sewer system.
“A couple of years ago when we had rain events — rain in the fall, especially — we had a lot of backups in basements from overflows of our sewer system,” Beavers said. “We initiated a program to reconstruct our sewer collection system to the extent that we could. The incidents of people having sanitary sewer backups in their neighborhoods and on their property, or even in their basements have been curtailed immensely. We don’t have nearly the number of incidents that we used to have. We’ve also got a water ring replacement on the board on Ste. Genevieve Avenue we’re doing.”
Next, Beavers moved to the inner workings of city government and the improvements being made at city hall.
“Internally, our city staff is implementing a new software system that will be the operating platform for many years into the future,” he said. “We currently use a data technology system that we’ve just outgrown. We’ve been using it for 16 to 18 years. We’re undergoing implementation of the new system. It’s a big project too. It will be the operating platform for all of our business functions for the city for a number of years. We have plenty going on keeping us busy.”
In concluding his overview of the city’s plans for 2022, Beavers placed a special emphasis on the big project currently going on in Engler Park.
“I think a lot of people have eyes on the all-inclusive playground project,” he said. “We were really excited when a couple of years ago when the local Play-It-Forward group brought up that idea and did a lot of fundraising, planning and work. We’ve had a good partnership and we’re going to collectively deliver a really nice, new playground for people of all ages.
“If you have a mobility issue or a developmental issue and for whatever reason, our existing playground equipment just doesn’t fit your needs in those circumstances — we’re going to fix that problem. We think we’re going to have it finished in May of this year. Of course, Brockmiller Construction, Taylor Engineering and a number of other companies around town are donating time, material, and equipment to do this project. Anytime you can get that many folks all chipping in, it makes the load awfully light to get off the ground.”
“We get a little stronger every year, which is good for us.” – Greg Beavers, Farmington City Administrator
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or email@example.com