Mayor and City Council Sworn into Office; Connelly Calls on Community to Unite
Post Date:12/10/2019 8:28 AM
Return to full list >>
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly and the other members of the Greenville City Council were sworn into office on Monday night during an Installation Ceremony held at City Hall.
Connelly was joined by fellow incumbents Brian Meyerhoeffer (At-large), Monica Daniels (District 1), Rose Glover (District 2), Will Bell (District 3), Rick Smiley (District 4), and William Litchfield (District 5) during the ceremony. Each member of the Council was re-elected in November and will serve a two-year term.
"We have laid the groundwork," Connelly said during his opening address. "Now the next two years are about continuing our work."
Connelly's opening address focused on partnerships and continuing to build on the progress he and the Council have made during the past two years, including improvements to infrastructure, enhancements to public safety, and expansion of the tax base. Connelly referenced several specific achievements while also noting that the Council's accomplishments occurred while maintaining the City's property tax rate.
The opening address was also a call to action for local private and public leaders to join forces and support the new Greenville-ENC Alliance economic development partnership. The Alliance, Connelly noted, is unlike any approach that the region has ever taken before.
"This approach allows for more coordination and communication among partners and an ability to leverage all of our resources to ensure the whole region is appropriately served," Connelly said.
Connelly also called on the community to unite in support of the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine expansion and to advocate state leaders for investment in the area's infrastructure.
Below is a full transcript of Connelly's opening address.
Two years ago, I took the oath of office as mayor and pledged, along with the other members of the City Council, to focus on purposeful growth and partnerships to make Greenville a great place to live and work.
Our goals were to grow the tax base, improve infrastructure, enhance public safety, and work closely with local, state, and federal leaders to advance our community. I coined the phrase that Greenville Means Business.
I am proud to say we continue to grow our tax base, we are investing more than ever in infrastructure, crime was down by 20 percent, and this past year has seen the inception of the region's first public-private economic development partnership. Greenville does mean business.
We have laid the groundwork. Now, the next two years are about continuing our work.
From an infrastructure standpoint, we are investing $2.5 million annually, a significant increase, in street improvements for rebuilding and resurfacing streets, we've financed phase two of the Transportation Improvements Bond, and we are starting the implementation of a storm water preventative maintenance program which will provide additional resources for storm water maintenance and capital projects. Additionally, the $33 million Town Creek Culvert project got underway and is on schedule to be completed by late 2020.
In November, the City was awarded a $15 million BUILD Grant from the United States Department of Transportation, a grant that will help us improve our vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure throughout Uptown, West Greenville, and the Medical District. These projects will greatly enhance connectivity and provide improved access to employments centers.
To improve our public safety efforts, we have spent an additional $250,000 each year on additional street lighting, street cameras, and pedestrian safety enhancements. We are also poised to construct a seventh fire station in the city.
Over the last two years, we have greatly enhanced our efforts to provide a clean and beautiful city including the allocation of resources for more frequent litter cleanup on major thoroughfares, and we have expanded the use of our adopt-a-street program. I would like to commend Councilmember Bell who has organized monthly neighborhood cleanups in his district. Working together always serves us well.
Over the last two years, there have been significant additions to the Town Common. We added restrooms to enhance the visitor experience and, in May, we held the ground breaking for the Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza. This plaza will reflect the history of the downtown neighborhood and serve as a welcoming plaza for the park. We look forward to its dedication in the late spring of this year.
The Town Common is known as our community gathering space, and over the last two years we have increased the events and activities there. I hope you have had an opportunity to enjoy some of the offerings.
Just recently, the City Council also approved the purchase of more than 180 acres of river front land for a new action adventure park. This new park will include trails and other amenities that take advantage of the Tar River. We are excited about these new opportunities.
And I'm pleased to say we have done all of this while maintaining the property tax rate.
One of the most important investments that we have made over the past two years, however, is that in the newly formed Greenville-ENC Alliance.
I have said many times that we cannot grow this region alone. We are stronger together, and the Greenville-ENC Alliance is a great example of that. The Alliance is a public-private economic development organization that will serve the Greenville Pitt County Region.
The City of Greenville, Greenville Utilities, and other towns throughout Pitt County have joined with private business to form this Alliance which will provide a boost in economic development by marketing the region, supporting new and existing businesses, developing community assets, maximizing investment opportunities, and engaging the private and public sectors in a collaborative economic development program.
This collaborative approach is unlike any approach we have ever taken here before, and one that has proven to be extremely effective in other regions. Obviously, the major advantage of a regional approach is, as I said, that we achieve more by working together. This approach also allows for more coordination and communication among partners and an ability to leverage all of our resources to ensure the whole region is appropriately served.
So many throughout the region have recognized the importance of a collaborative approach and the result has been an astounding capital campaign that has raised nearly $3 million thus far.
At this time, I want to urge all of Pitt County to strongly consider joining us in this regional collaboration. It's time to end fragmentation. It's time to come together.
A collaborative approach can benefit us in other areas as well. Over the next two years, we must also unite to support East Carolina and the expansion and new building for the Brody School of Medicine, and we must advocate for our state leaders to invest in our area's infrastructure as well. Both can benefit our community greatly.
Greenville truly does mean business, and we have a lot of great people in this city and this region that need to be moving in the same direction for us to move forward.
Over the last two years, it has been my privilege to serve as your Mayor. I am honored to continue this work.