State of the City

Kettering Mayor Don Patterson recently gave his annual State of the City presentation, celebrating the successes Kettering enjoyed in 2018 and announcing the major city projects & initiatives which will take place in 2019.

The text of the Mayor’s 2019 State of the City address appears below  the video of his presentation.

Welcome.  I’m Don Patterson and I am honored to be your Kettering Mayor.

One of my most important responsibilities is to share with you the successes of the previous year and the projects, initiatives and service improvements we have in store for the Kettering community in the year to come.

As I prepared the highlights for 2018 I was overwhelmed with pride in all that the city accomplished this year, I am filled with excitement for all of the great developments on the horizon.

For this year’s State of the City presentation, we are going to have a little fun.  There’s so much to see that we are going on a virtual tour of the city.

I’ve got a lot of great news to share with you, so let’s get on our way!

By far the most significant transformation that happened in 2018 was here at our Kettering Business Park.  25 years ago, this was the Gentile Air Force Station.  When the installation closed, the city purchased the complex and created the Kettering Business Park.

Once nearly vacant, the campus is now home to more than 2500 employees.  Synchrony Financial has been an anchor tenant for nearly a decade.  This year they were joined by Alternate Solutions Health Network, a regional provider of at home health care founded by Kettering residents Tess & David Ganszarto.  They purchased the vacant, city-owned building located at 1050 Forrer and invested in a multi-million dollar renovation to create their new headquarters. They are already working on plans to expand further, have exceeded their predictions for new job creation, and they anticipate hundreds more new jobs in the coming years.  The Kettering Business Park also welcomed Kettering Health Network to our campus this year.  The construction of their state-of-the-art operations center is scheduled to open in early 2019.

In 2017, the team at the City worked with our tenant partners to develop a master plan for the Kettering Business Park campus.  In 2018 we started to implement the first phases of that plan.  We designed and installed modern entry signage and completed upgrades to landscaping and pathways near the entrance.  The next year will bring completion of the second phase of the plan which will include landscaping in the round-about and installation of directional signage.  The last vacant original structure left in the park, building #2, will be demolished in 2019 making way for new development.  It’s an exciting time at the Kettering Business Park.  Years from now I am certain that we will look back on this period of rapid development as one of the immense successes of our economic development efforts.

We certainly place a great deal of focus on attracting new businesses and on helping the businesses that are already in Kettering grow and thrive here.  In Kettering the vast majority of our amenities and our valued city services are funded by income tax.  If we don’t have the jobs, we don’t have the resources to support the infrastructure, facilities and services our residents and business communities treasure.  In the end, our goal is to protect the investment that you made when you decided to call Kettering home. That means that we invest in our commercial centers to support job growth, and we invest in our neighborhoods and world-class amenities.

There’s one initiative to re-invest in our neighborhoods that is very unique.  Each year, city staff and stakeholders have identified one neighborhood where a concentrated and coordinated focus of resources could make a significant impact.  In 2018, Cities of Service launched in the Haverstick neighborhood right across the street from our Kettering Business Park.

Let’s make our way down Forrer Boulevard to a previous Cities of Service area, the Oak Park neighborhood, in 2018, our CitySites Public Art Program dedicated a new piece by artist Virginia Kistler.  The artwork is the inaugural piece in the ArtLocal program, an initiative utilizing art and creative thinking in localized public spaces throughout the city of Kettering. Beginning in fall 2017, Kistler facilitated hands-on workshops and conversations with children, residents and veterans at Greenmont Elementary School, Greenmont Oak Park Community Church, and the VFW Post to capture the values and spirit of the Oak Park neighborhood. Kistler’s stainless steel artwork Mutual Homes reflects the meaning of home to Oak Park residents.

Just across Woodman Drive from the Oak Park neighborhood is automotive manufacturing company Tenneco.  Kettering was extremely fortunate that as many communities struggled and continue to struggle with shuttered plants, our manufacturing industry is growing.  This year Tenneco announced that it plans to consolidate two out of state locations in to their facility here in Kettering.This will result in the creation of their Manufacturing Center of Excellence and will bring a 61 million dollar reinvestment in the plant as well as several hundred new well-paying engineering and high level manufacturing jobs.  Renovations are set to begin in 2019 and a year from now I look forward to sharing with you the progress.

Now let’s make our way over toward the north-east corner of Kettering to the Miami Valley Research Park.  The most exciting development here this year was the announcement of a 50 million dollar, 132,000 square foot expansion of Community Tissue Services.  As you may recall, the City of Kettering purchased the nearly 300 acres of undeveloped land in the business park in 2017.  In 2018, we sold 3 parcels, approximately 38 acres, to Community Tissue Services.  In 2019, we will complete the construction of College Drive, extending the roadway from Research Boulevard to Founders Drive. Our investment to complete this roadway will significantly enhance opportunities for future expansion of CTS and will help to attract new companies to the adjacent available parcels.  In 2019, we will work in cooperation with a commercial real estate firm to market the remaining undeveloped acreage and with the businesses who call Miami Valley Research Park home to prioritize investments that will move the entire campus forward.

In 2018 we worked in partnership with Beavercreek to analyze traffic patterns, host a public meeting and ultimately to plan for significant improvements to County Line Road in 2021.  The project will add a lane of traffic in each direction in order to ease daily vehicle flow and will also extend the multi-use path from the edge of the Miami Valley Research Park all of the way to Dorothy Lane and Stroop Road.  Ultimately this will connect to the recently constructed multi-use path that leads to Indian Riffle Park, the Rob Dyrdek Skate Plaza and the Kettering Recreation Complex.

The Kettering Recreation Complex main pool, hallway and aquatics locker rooms underwent a major renovation project with the replacement of the flooring in all areas in 2018. Other improvements include improved accessibility, some mechanical system modifications and the removal of the high dive with plans for installation of a larger slide in 2019.

Making our way down the new Prugh Woods Drive, we come to the Prugh Woods residential development, an enclave of 36 new construction single family homes in a park-like setting.  Construction on the development began in 2017 and there are only a handful of lots remaining.  As a land-locked community, opportunities for new construction homes are rare here so when they do happen, they sell quickly.

In fact, the housing market in Kettering remains strong throughout the community. Properties in every style and price range continue to sell often within days of listing.  We are also excited about some of the reinvestment taking place in our neighborhoods as private real estate entrepreneurs purchase, renovate and place back on the market updated homes in highly desirable locations.  One-by-one, these like-new properties spark interest in more improvements to those nearby.  And soon house-by-house and street-by-street, the property values of the entire neighborhood begin to rise.

Throughout the city our Community Development team works one-on-one with residents who desire to make improvements to their homes or who wish to buy a home in Kettering and need financial support to make that dream come true.

Another way that we support our neighborhoods is with our prioritized residential reconstruction and repaving programs for roadways.  We know that while our residents are investing in improvements beyond the curb, it is our responsibility to reinvest in the streets, drives, boulevards and avenues that connect our neighborhoods.  In 2018, we completed a multi-year project here in the Valleywood neighborhood. Whether we lead projects to install new curbs and sidewalks or repair those already in place, to repair roadways or to replace them entirely, the city is committed to putting every neighborhood on a rotating schedule for improvements that prevent deterioration.

Let’s make our way to Wilmington Pike, an area where the city has placed significant focus in recent years.  As you know, Wilmington Pike is an essential corridor in Kettering, passing all of the way from our northern to southern boundaries.  It is also a stretch of town that fell in to a less than desirable state over the years.  In 2013, I assembled a group of Kettering business leaders, residents, real estate experts and City Council representatives to create a strategic plan for this critical corridor.  The task force, known as the Wilmington Pike Improvement Committee, established priorities and outlined phases for re-development that will result in a rejuvenated thoroughfare. Though we aren’t there yet, significant progress was made again in 2018.  In total, 3 properties deemed unsuitable for reuse were demolished and the sites were cleared for redevelopment.  We installed landscaping and street banners to enhance aesthetic quality.  A new Valvoline location was constructed at the long vacant corner of Wilmington Pike and Dorothy Lane.  Down the road Eudora brewing entered in to a lease for the deteriorating vacant Pep Boys building and completely transformed it in to a destination brewery.  The completely new Wilmington Stroop Library branch is under construction and will re-open in 2019.  And Popeye’s Chicken purchased the former PNC back, demolished the building and recently opened a brand new, first in market location.

We know that there is more in store for the Wilmington Pike in the coming years as it continues to evolve in to a vibrant corridor.

As we make our way southeast, let’s take a look at one of the most significant partner infrastructure projects that happened in Kettering in 2018, Montgomery County’s reconstruction of the bridge on Woodman Drive.  Many of the bridges on Kettering’s major roadways, including this one on Woodman and the one recently replaced on Stroop, are actually owned by Montgomery County so often they take the lead on needed projects.

Throughout Kettering, several bridges are reaching the end of their useful life and in most cases require complete replacement.  We will talk later about two bridges that are owned by the city and upcoming projects for their replacement.

The City of Kettering itself is almost 70 years old, and some of our neighborhoods are nearly 100 years old! Like anything that has been around this long, we have places that are starting to deteriorate. City Council has made reinvestment in infrastructure a critical priority because we want to maintain a city that is well-kept, attractive and vibrant – not run down.  With our partners at Montgomery County and Vectren, major reconstructions projects on bridges, roadways, intersections, water mains and gas lines will be critical.

This brings me to something that is really important for our residents and business owners to understand.  The supply of water to your home and the sewer drain from your home are precious infrastructure.  I just told you that we know that in many areas of town bridges, water mains and gas lines are aged to the point that they need complete replacement.  The same goes for the service line that connects your home to the water main at the street and the sanitary drain that connects to the sewer under the street.  The major difference is that if these service lines break or collapse, the repair or replacement is your responsibility.  Trust me when I tell you that this is not an inexpensive project.  We are encouraging homeowners to reach out to their insurance agents to discuss options for protecting yourself with a service line policy, or to ensure that they are saving for the potential occurrence of this significant disruption.  Unfortunately we know that each year your neighbors are finding themselves faced with this burden and though I certainly hope it never happens to you, in an established community like all of those in the Dayton suburbs it is possible and there is a way to be prepared. Check the homepage of our website ketteringoh.org for more information.

Since I mentioned our website, I want to take a moment to share with you some of the ways our website is improving the way the city serves you.  When we launched a brand new website in 2017, we included a place right on our homepage where you can get quick answers to frequent questions as well as report issues of concern that need the city’s attention.  This feature works on both our website and from our Facebook page and is easy to bookmark to the home screen of your smart phone or tablet making the help you need from the city just a touch away 24/7.  In 2018, we received nearly more than 1,200 requests for police records and nearly 1,000 requests for city assistance through our new website.  One of the most popular, with more than 115 reported through the website, is our easy method to report potholes.  This quickly identifies areas that need attention from our streets crews, cuts down on the amount of time it takes to get the potholes filled, and has dramatically reduced overall complaints about pothole maintenance citywide. We appreciate your efforts to help us serve you better.

One of the ways Kettering demonstrated our commitment to exceptional city services this year was the decision to offer free collection of residential debris resulting from the ice storm that occurred in November 2018.  Our street crews circulated the entire city to collect debris left at the curb and extended the operating season of our yard debris center to help residents dispose of branches.  Certainly this effort meant more staff hours and a longer than normal leaf collection season.  We hope you agree that it was worth it.  And beyond that, it’s the Kettering way.

Certainly exceptional city services make Kettering unique in the region.  Among the most treasured of city services is the protection offered by our Kettering Police and Fire Departments.  2018 was the first full year of operations for our Fire Department in their new headquarters and one that brought much deserved recognition. Our Fire Department received the American Heart Association Mission Lifeline® EMS Gold Plus Award for medical services provided to patients who experience the most deadly type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication. Our paramedics are specially trained to rapidly identify if a patient is experiencing a suspected heart attack, promptly notify the hospital emergency department, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

We completed the Fire Station Modernization project in 2018 with the grand opening of our final new facility, Station 37 which we will visit later on Dorothy Lane. Each of our four new stations are staffed 24 hours a day with personnel trained and equipped to the respond to your calls for service.  In 2018, the Kettering Fire Department responded to nearly 9,000 calls for assistance.

Here’s something else I think says a great deal about the members of our Kettering Fire Department. Each Friday, Kettering firefighters are visiting Kettering elementary classrooms and spend time reading to students. This allows our firefighters to build a trust with our young residents and reduces their fear in the event of an emergency, all while reinforcing the importance of literacy.  Also in an effort to educate students, the Kettering Fire Department created a fire prevention video that was shown to more than 4,100 students throughout Kettering in grades K-5.

And not only do the members of our Kettering Fire and Police Departments protect our community, but when disasters strike regionally or nationwide they offer their rescue and emergency expertise to impacted communities.  In 2018, they provided critical support to rescue an employee from our neighboring City of Oakwood who was trapped in a potentially life-threatening trench collapse.  And when the hurricanes hit Florida and the East Coast in 2018, they were deployed to assist in rescue and recovery operations.

A few projects happened behind the scenes in 2018 that will dramatically improve our ability to reach you in the case of an emergency.  We began a multi-year replacement project for the software that runs our emergency dispatch center.  We completed a technology advancement which ensures the continuity of our Emergency Operations Center and backup dispatch operations, a safeguard to protect all of us should a catastrophic natural disaster occur.

Another project that will be critical to our public safety operations as well as our efforts to attract new businesses in the creation of a fiber optic service ring in partnership with 7 neighboring communities.  Data service is now a highly demanded form of infrastructure for companies and a critical resource for public safety.  Partnering with our neighbors to install the fiber-ring makes the project more affordable and allows us to connect our emergency operations centers to theirs increasing the reliability of our system, particularly in the case of a disaster or citywide outage. We were proud to lead the way on this regional project and know that offering this modern infrastructure amenity will be highly valuable.

As we leave Fire Headquarters, let’s pause for a moment here at David Road.  In 2019, this section of East David Road from Wilmington Pike to Ackerman Boulevard will be resurfaced and the drive approaches and curbs along the roadway will be replaced.  We were able to leverage our investment in this project to secure nearly 40% of the funding needed for this project from federal sources.

Another great success story in 2018 was the completion of a major expansion project at the School of Advertising Art here on David Road.  Not only did the physical space transform, but so did the opportunities provided on this thriving campus as the school evolved to become The Modern College of Design.  For the first time, students can now earn both 2-year and 4-year college degrees in graphic design, marketing and digital communication right here in Kettering.

As we make our way south we travel along Bigger Road which saw the completion of a major roadway resurfacing project in 2018.  Also in this area of town, we finished the final phases of a multi-year residential roadway improvement program in the Oak Creek neighborhood.  And East Rahn Road will be resurfaced from Wilmington Pike east to the Centerville boundary in 2019.

The Oak Creek Plaza saw significant reinvestment in 2018, and I am pleased to say the rebirth of an area many feared would become long vacant.  When Kroger left, Marc’s Grocery very quickly snapped up the property and completely remodeled to make way for their first location in the southwest Ohio market.  The residents surrounding the location relied heavily on having a neighborhood grocery store and we were thrilled to welcome Marc’s to Kettering.

Around the corner the highly successful Victoria’s Secret call center evolved to be known as Mast Global, a name more fitting for their critical digital customer support services for all Limited Brands companies.  The operations center in Kettering continues to thrive and to grow opportunities for rewarding careers.

As we make our way back across Kettering, I want to take a moment to talk about property maintenance.  Here in Kettering, we have expected standards that apply to each and every property regardless of location, size or value.  We have a dedicated team of inspectors who systematically review property concerns and work with residents to resolve issues. In 2018, 84% of our property maintenance cases were closed, with violations remedies by the property owner in a very short period of time.

On the other side of the spectrum, we are also thrilled to celebrate those who earned the coveted Neighborhood Pride Award in 2018.  Now in it’s 30th year, the Neighborhood Pride program is an entirely volunteer led effort to recognize the residents and businesses who make significant investments to improve the curb appeal of their properties and consistently maintain them at a level far beyond the norm.  Congratulations to all of the 2018 winners.  Thank you for your efforts to make your property and our neighborhoods something special.  My gratitude as always goes to the Neighborhood Pride Committee for their efforts to review nominations and select the winners.

Certainly this is a place you all recognize.  Fraze Pavilion is the crown-jewel of Kettering and one of the things our residents love about calling Kettering home. The Fraze Pavilion’s successful 2018 season included the launch of a new event, Taco Tuesday, along with multiple sold out shows including Alison Krauss, Southern Uprising featuring Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band and Outlaws, REBA, Avett Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, Get the Led Out, and The Menus.  The 2018 season also showcased first time Fraze performers:  Roger Daltrey, Michael W Smith, Boy George & Culture Club. More than 53,800 visitors attended 12 festivals, ticket sales for paid concerts reached $3.2 million and once again, Fraze Pavilion landed on the list of the top 100 outdoor amphitheaters worldwide.  Sure there may be some new entertainment venues in the region, but no matter how hard they try, they will never be Fraze.

The landscaping on the Kettering Government Center Campus was redesigned in 2018. Large boulders and new concrete curbing were added to eliminate erosion issues on the banks of the south building breezeway.The new trees and perennials were selected to coordinate with other City facilities and offer a wide variety of color and seasonal interest. The irrigation system was also repaired and reconfigured to accommodate the new landscaping.

A long awaited and significant project will be getting underway on the Kettering Government Center campus as we begin the design of a new Police Headquarters in 2019.  The new headquarters will be here at the Government Center as we add a brand new second story above the existing police facilities and renovate the current area to meet the needs of a modern police department. In recent years the Kettering Police Department has placed great emphasis on the relationship our law enforcement professionals have with you, our residents.  The design of the new Police Headquarters will reflect that, with a new welcoming public entry on the main government center plaza.

Another significant and meaningful expansion will take place in the Kettering Police Department in 2019.  Our School Resource Officer force will grow from 2 officers to 5, placing a dedicated Kettering Police Department Partner at Fairmont High School, one at both Van Buren and Kettering Middle Schools, and two additional officers who will serve the Kettering elementary schools.  Students who have a positive law enforcement role model are less likely to engage in risky or illegal behavior. By establishing a presence in each school, the School Resource Officers can build trusting relationships with students by participating as active members of the school community, and of course are there should a safety matter arise.

In 2019, KPD will continue to focus on innovative ways to protect our neighborhoods and keep our community safe.  Last year we rolled out the pilot version of our community crime mapping tool.  Through a link on our website you can search by address to get a report of all police activity in the area during a specific period of time.  We have been fine-tuning the tool, and in 2019 a more sophisticated version will be released.

Another new approach we are taking in partnership with you is to offer voluntary registration of home security cameras, also through a link on our website.  If you have a camera on your property, please consider registering it with us.  In the case of a suspected crime or public safety matter in your area, Kettering Police Department will then contact you and ask to review any footage your camera may have captured during the time of the suspected occurrence.  This effort has already helped KPD resolve some issues, and we appreciate your willingness to partner with us to enhance the safety of our neighborhoods.

In late 2017, following significant pulbic engagement efforts to collect feedback on project alternatives, our City Council directed city administration to pursue grant funding for the purpose of reconstructing the Ridgeway Road Bridge. We learned in July 2018 that the Ridgeway Road Bridge Replacement was awarded project funding, 95% of the construction costs- – up to 2 million dollars– from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Municipal Bridge Program. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in late 2020 or early 2021.

As we make our way to the northwest corner of the city, we travel through the Hilton neighborhood near the corner of Dorothy Lane and South Dixie Drive.  Beginning in 2019 the city will collaborate with Montgomery County Water and Vectren gas on a multi-phase project to replace water mains, gas lines and ultimately the entire roadway in this neighborhood.

I’d like to share with you another exciting partnership.  In 2019, the Schantz Avenue Bridge  over South Dixie Highway will undergo a complete replacement.  Rather than reconstructing another unremarkable concrete bridge structure with utilitarian chain-link fence, we collaborated with our CitySites Public Art Program to seek an artist who designed a one-of-a-kind public art installation.  The art will integrate seamlessly in to the new bridge and will create a signature entry feature for Kettering, reflecting the artistry of the trolley cars which once traveled the Dixie corridor and the designs on the historic cash registers showcased at nearby Carillon Park.  Replacement of the Schantz Avenue Bridge is expected be complete by the end of 2019, and we anticipate that traffic in both directions on South Dixie will be maintained during construction, though each direction will be reduced to one lane.

I mentioned earlier that we recently hosted the grand opening of our final of four new fire stations, Station 37 here on Dorothy Lane. It’s important that I take a moment to thank the residents and key stakeholders who worked with our staff to develop a design for all four of our new fire stations that, as you can see, certainly reflects the character and standards of our community.

Kettering Health Network, with their flagship Kettering Medical Center on Southern Boulevard, remains not only our largest employer but also one of our most loyal community partners.  In 2019 they will complete another two floors of patient care space in the Kettering Cancer Care Center, expanding a world-class oncology facility right here in our backyard.

Time and time again, I find myself overwhelmed with pride when I hear of the generosity of our Kettering community. I’d like to end my presentation this year with a few examples.

In 2018, the city added a full-time Compliance and Inclusion Manager to our team to help us ensure that our facilities, projects and programs meet ADA standards and city staff are trained to lean toward yes in support of requests from the public.  This year a young couple who recently purchased a home near Walther Park contacted the city to explore options for installation of equipment that would allow their daughter to enjoy the playground.  Our Compliance & Inclusion Manager met with them to discuss their needs and then reached out to our long-time friends at the AMBUCS service club who agreed to fund the purchase of an accessible swing.  If you’ve ever seen a child’s face as they delight from using a swing, you know how special this improvement will be. It’s one example of how we, and our community partners, are making a difference in ways large and small.

The City of Kettering is home to community spirit as evidenced by the Annual Volunteer Recognition program each fall.  This year I was proud to honor our volunteers for contributing more than 32,000 hours of service this year and saving the city more than $750,000.

In addition, we presented Day Air Credit Union with the 2018 Partnership Award in recognition of their contributions of time and resources to the Cities of Service Initiative, Make A Difference Day activities, the Christmas Day Open House, and events to support the Kettering Police Foundation.

As we enter 2019, the City of Kettering’s Volunteer Program celebrates 40 years of service!  What began as a group of volunteers planting marigolds in the medians in 1979 has blossomed into a force of more than 1,000 active volunteers who continue to foster the mission of the volunteer program—to assist city staff by expanding city programs, enhancing city services, building an understanding of city government, and encouraging community pride.

I would also like to thank all of the Kettering residents who take their commitment to serving our community to the next level by serving on our numerous boards and commissions.  Their leadership is critical, and their input vital.

So is yours.  In Kettering we highly value engaged residents, opportunities to have meaningful dialogue and active participation in leadership of our community.  I, and my fellow members of City Council, truly enjoy hearing from those we represent.  We encourage you to join us for a City Council meeting on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM and to stay connected to our city communications to ensure you are always in the know about the latest city projects, service announcements and alerts.

In 2019, I hope you will consider the ways you might get involved in a leadership role in the Kettering community.

Our Kettering Leadership Academy and our City boards and commissions are frequently looking for new members. These are great opportunities to learn more about the city and create a path to additional leadership opportunities.

Looking back, I am so grateful that I took the exact step I am asking you to take.  Serving Kettering initially as a City Council Member, and now as your Mayor, is one of the greatest honors and most rewarding experiences of my life.

Be assured that all of us on Kettering City Council and your city administrators are dedicated to serving you and to ensuring you remain proud to say Kettering is home.

May you and your families be healthy and prosperous in the New Year and on behalf of City Council and staff, thank you for allowing us to serve you.  God bless!

 

The archive of the video from 2018 State of the City presentation is below:

 

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