by John Tully
“I’m proud to report that the state of our city is transformed from reactive to proactive in addressing the needs of Salisbury,” said Mayor Jay Ireton, Jr. last Thursday, summing up the tone of his state of the city address.
He then began a “lightening round” of achievements from the past two years. Such accomplishments included the Salisbury zoo raising almost $3M with a conscious nod to Wicomico County students who helped raise more than $31,000 on the zoo’s behalf, the construction of the Naylor Mill lift station, touted as both spurring job growth and, having been built well under budget, saving nationwide taxpayers around $500,000, and other strides in environmental concern, community outreach and city beautification.
“Salisbury is a safer city than it was two years ago,” said Ireton, highlighting steps taken to reduce crime throughout the city, including a 21.9 percent reduction of part one crimes, a 85 percent plunge in homicides, a 64 percent drop in robberies and an 18 percent reduction in assaults, all over the past two years.
The mayor went on to lay out plans to institute programs and implement the latest technology in order to ensure efficient police action in reducing crime.
“Since I live off campus and walking is my main way of transportation, I feel secure and encouraged to go about my way, knowing that the police are…keeping Salisbury safe,” said freshman Arielle Champagne.
Ireton shared proposed initiatives to provide incentives to developers that he hopes will build up the downtown area of Salisbury.
“With coordinated effort and commitment, downtown will capture real market demand for development,” said the mayor, as reported by The Daily Times. “Even modest amounts of county and regional growth will translate into real development potential.”
Such incentives include more inviting tax exemptions for businesses, a 50 percent reduction in the water capacity fee of the city, alterations to the paving policy of the city which would allow road modification to only apply to half of the road, reducing costs for developers, plans to develop and surplus existing parking lots, and, given the costs of the current equivalent dwelling unit—about $8500 for water and sewage utilities—making downtown Salisbury an EDU-free zone.
“I want to stop watching developers go to Delaware,” said Ireton, who anticipates a 300 job increase, an 500 unit gain in housing, a 750 boost in resident population and 100,000 commercial square footage increase in downtown Salisbury by the year 2020.
“These ideas are as sensible as they are desired on the part of the business community,” said Salisbury’s Daily Times editorial on Sunday.
Former SGA President and graduate student Julia Glanz, who introduced Ireton at the address, appreciated his blueprints for building up the downtown, but said, “I would have liked to see his vision around other parts of Salisbury.”
“I was hoping to hear about local housing laws, and if any changes were planning to be made,” said Champagne, but remained optimistic about the future of Salisbury.
Ireton echoed this optimism, saying proudly, “We are a city transformed for our people.”
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