SMITHVILLE — According to Assistant City Administrator Nickie Lee and Development Director Jack Hendrix, with input from Mayor Damien Boley and City Administrator Cynthia Wagner, the city’s top three accomplishments of 2019 include infrastructure, economic development and engagement.
“The city completed construction of many 2018 voter-approved projects,” Lee said. Projects completed include the Second Creek bridge, downtown streetscape, 180th Street trail and sidewalk and South Commercial Avenue sidewalks. The city also started the design phase of the Main Street trail. All these projects, Lee said, represent about $5.9 million in bond dollars.
“Economic development continued to grow in the community with seven new commercial building permits, a record-breaking year for commercial development,” the assistant city said.
In addition, the city completed major upgrades to the city’s water and sewer systems. An industrial park is also being developed along the west side of U.S. Highway 169.
“Finally, the city engaged approximately 1,100 residents in the strategic planning process,” Lee concluded.
While 2019 was highlighted with development and citywide improvements, it wasn’t without its challenges. Lee said weather created many issues.
“Weather and current market conditions caused unanticipated delays and costs in several projects, especially Amory Road,” she said, referring to the newly paved road that collapsed soon after it opened due to water erosion of the roadbed.
“The second challenge was continuing to find innovative ways to stretch public dollars to meet citizen demand,” Lee said. “As the city grows, solutions like utility rate increases, special sales taxes and other revenue sources may need to continue to be explored.”
Lee said change in elected and organizational leaders also created some issues for Smithville.
“Finding the balance between respecting the past while charting a new path into the future will be a community endeavor,” Lee said.
Looking to 2020, the assistant city administrator said the year will see several exciting initiatives continue.
“One of the most exciting processes will be the comprehensive plan update, which will expand on the strategic pillars identified in the visioning process,” she said. “The Smithville Main Street project will also kick off in 2020. … Finally, the community will consider a new park and stormwater sales tax to address high priority needs identified in the strategic plan.”