Williamsburg Mayor Clyde Haulman gave his first State of the City address yesterday evening, focusing on how the city has withstood the current economic climate and its plans for future development.
The speech covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time, discussing transportation, town-gown relations and the city’s goals for the next two years.
“We have weathered the Great Recession so far in pretty good shape,” he said. “I can say without reservation the state of the city is good.”
Although city revenues have declined over the past several years, Haulman said that the city remains in the black. Because Williamsburg relies on meal and room taxes, the declining tourism industry has carried over to the city’s balance book.
Haulman said the city will begin to assess economic expansion in three areas determined ripe for development. This includes the shopping centers around the intersection of Richmond Road, Lafayette Street and Monticello Avenue, as well as the area around Second Street.
A third portion of the city, surrounding Quarterpath Road, will also be examined for economic development in the near future.
“Ultimately, the state of any city depends on its many communities, institutions and all of our businesses,” he said. “Together, we can all look forward to an exciting and productive two years.”
The College of William and Mary and city residents have not always had the best relationship, but Haulman praised College President Taylor Reveley, saying that town-gown relations have never been better.
Student Assembly President Chrissy Scott ’11 praised Haulman’s speech, particularly the city’s decision to focus on developing the area around the new School of Education on Monticello Avenue.
According to Haulman, the Williamsburg Trolleys are frequently used by students. Future transportation goals include expansion of a light rail system along the Peninsula.
Haulman spent a lot of the speech discussing Williamsburg’s strengths as a city, which earned high marks in the 2010 National Citizen Survey. The survey measures resident satisfaction with city services and community amenities.
Copies of the city’s Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes for the 2011-2012 Biennium were available to those in attendance. The packet, constructed with the input of city residents, will serve as a playbook for city policymakers over the next two years.
Community outreach and engagement was classified as a top priority.
“We’ve set the bar pretty high for ourselves,” Haulman said after the speech. “But that’s what you have to do.”
Although he feels a lot has been accomplished over his first few months as mayor, Haulman said that finding solutions for the region’s lack of affordable housing is one area in which the city has struggled.
“My hope is we’re getting out of that first round of shocks,” he said, referring to the economic factors that have devastated the housing market and city revenues.