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State Of The City - Mayor's Main Theme: Reinvent Riverbank
Her theme for this year was 'Reinventing Riverbank' through collaboration, consolidation and consensus, said Mayor Virginia Madueno at the start of her recent State of the City address.

"Collaboration; it's time for local government to reach out to the private sector, to their constituents, and to their employees to work together for the common good of the community," Madueno told the crowd gathered at the Galaxy Theatre on Thursday evening, Feb. 17.

"Consolidation; as we reach out to each other we can no longer go about our 'business as usual.' Rather we must reinvent ourselves through maximizing our resources and through unifying common efforts and reaching a common goal of cost savings.

"Consensus; as we strive to reinvent ourselves and minimize the economic hardship to our businesses, customers, citizens, and employees, we must work swiftly to capitalize on our agreements, capitalize on consolidation of services, and capitalize on regional approaches to govern for the common good of survival," she said.

Madueno went on to say that she views this as "Riverbank's opportunity to reinvent itself" and to become a more results based accountability city (RBA), something she will stress as long as she is in office. RBA is simple and it asks three basic questions: how much did we do, how well did we do it, what was the benefit to the community and (for an additional fourth point) how much did it cost?

Priorities this year, she said, need to concentrate on economic development, public safety/health, smart growth and effective land use planning, public participation and engagement and improving the overall quality of life.

"As we plan for the future we also need to look at how we can improve our streetscapes, protect our neighborhoods, invest in our housing stock with neighborhood amenities, redevelop vacant and underutilized property, promote industrial growth, strengthen our cultural core, build a green infrastructure network and develop a vision for a river trail or rails to trails that connect us to our neighboring City of Oakdale," she said.

Summarizing achievements and priorities for 2010 in the major departments of city government, Madueno offered these thoughts on the accomplishments and work still to be done:

Community Development

The Downtown Specific Plan environmental impact report is completed, preparation of the Base Reuse Plan EIR is under way and Riverbank continues to be an active participant with the Joint Powers Authority for the North County Corridor Project, a project that will provide Riverbank and the northeast region the ability to move goods and services faster and easier from Highway 99 to the east corridor. But Riverbank's sewer and water infrastructure are critical issues that the City must address and officials are currently looking at how they can establish a relationship with the City of Modesto for sewer and water support.

Economic Development

The Economic Development and Housing Department has been able to bring in redevelopment projects to the city, and is always looking for ways to promote businesses, as well as connect the city's activities through the popular social media and traditional media networks. Some of the highlights include: lobbying on behalf of the community for high speed rail consideration; the Riverbank Family Apartments, a public-private partnership that has been very successful with only a 3 percent vacancy rate; and obtaining a $400,000 CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) Grant for the city that offers home rehabilitation and first-time homebuyers assistance to Riverbank residents.

Local Redevelopment Authority

Many attending the State of the City address may have been to or worked at the former Army Ammunition Plant, a plant that once housed more than 5,000 employees during its peak operation during the Vietnam War. The Army still owns the base, but Riverbank is now the lessor. The overriding objective for the project remains constant: redevelop the facility into a world-class, environmentally-conscious industrial park that will attract stable industrial and manufacturing businesses with a variety of high paying employment opportunities. Since taking partial conveyance (operations and maintenance) of the site in 2010, the LRA has grown from seven to 17 businesses at the site. Two additional businesses will be added within the next 30 days and there are four businesses that are currently undergoing expansion plans on the site.

Parks and Recreation

The Parks and Recreation Department continues to be overwhelmed by the demand of service to city parks. This year staff managed the successful construction of the Teen Center Building, due to have its grand opening on Feb. 26. The department continues to thrive by increasing self-sustaining classes and recreation programs. The Sports Complex continues to be a thriving asset to the City, bringing hundreds of visitors. This year's objectives will be to increase funding through more grant applications that will help bring in expansions such as Jacob Myers Park Phase III, Phase II of Silva Park, Phase II of the Sports Complex and eventually bring in a Dog Park and more football and baseball fields.

Public Safety

Riverbank continues to contract with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department for Police Services, a practice that the city adopted over 15 years ago. This year patrol units made more than 17,600 calls for service, including over 4,500 traffic stops and more than 2,500 issued citations. Deputies contacted 827 suspicious vehicles/persons, investigated 213 traffic collisions and handled 1,326 domestic disturbance calls and made a total of 678 arrests. The current police force consists of 20 sworn deputies who provide law enforcement services to the 22,000 plus residents of our city. This averages to .90 deputies per thousand that is below the recommended average. The City has set a five-year goal of 1.25 deputies per thousand. But the biggest challenges are going to be both financial and the increase in crime. Without vehicle license fees, the City will lose $100,000 from the state and a reduction in police services becomes inevitable. It will also be hit hard with the increased cost of retirement costs for public safety.

Several dozen people attended the State of the City program, which also included an informal session prior to the Mayor's address for residents to meet and greet the current council members and candidates for the March 8 special election to fill a vacant seat on the five-member panel.