Mayor Delivers 2017 State of the City Address

What a special day for Opelika! Mayor Gary Fuller delivered the 2017 State of the City Address to a packed house. The event was held at Southern Union State Community College in the Southern Room. Hosted by the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, Pam Powers-Smith welcomed the crowd. Chamber Chairman Bill Trant introduced Mayor Fuller. Business owners, citizens, city council members, City employees and clergy were in attendance.

Below you'll find the full State of the City Address.

Dear Friends,

Building on the Best. Focused On The Future.

Folks, what a fantastic year for the City of Opelika! I’m pleased to announce that FY 2016 was by far one of the best on record.

I’m proud to say that we are financially sound, having brought in more revenue dollars than projected and by reducing budget expenditures. With new roadwork, several industry expansions, new retail developments and the return of the Rocky Brook Rocket, we have a great deal to be thankful for in our community.

Economic Development: FY2016 brought about significant results. We added 261 new jobs and $127.8 million in Capital Investments. Several existing industries announced expansions during the year – Mando America, Cumberland Plastics and Daewon America. Baxter, for the most part, has completed their $300 million expansion and is in the process of hiring 200 additional folks.

As you know, we announced Golden States Foods in FY2015. While still under construction and not yet complete, they have decided to invest an additional $20.2 million in the project, bringing total investment to $77.7 million. The plant should be operational by Q3 or Q4, 2017.

Further, we recently announced new industry for Opelika, Car Tech, LLC. Their new facility will employ 200 associates and produce parts for the automotive industry.This will be an investment of $72 million for the facility and equipment.

Retail continues to flourish in Opelika too. A new retail development, Tiger Square,has opened on Frederick Road. Downtown Opelika is adding new businesses and older retail spaces are seeing new life in shopping centers like Pepperell Corners, USA Town Center and Saugahatchee Square.

We also have two new housing developments in the City – The Springs at Mill Lakes and The Village at Hamilton Lake. They’re in great locations and will be very attractive places to live.

Investment Numbers FY2011 – FY2016

During the five-year period between FY 2011 and FY 2016 the City of Opelika can report the following totals from our Industries:

  • Capital Investments: $789,100,000
  • Total Jobs Created: 1,598

Other Good News in Economic Development: The 2016 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index named the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area No. 6 in the Best Performing Small Cities Annual Index, up from No. 10 in 2015. In addition, because we had another successful PGA event with the Barbasol Championship, they will return for the third year in July 2017 at the Grand National on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Opelika.

Building Permits for FY 2016

Building report numbers remained strong for FY 2016. Here are some of the final year end numbers:

New Commercial Buildings = 29

New Single Family Homes = 169

Total Building Permits Issued = 498 at a Total Value of $132.6 million

Opelika Infrastructure Projects: We have a good number of active construction projects that started in FY 2016

  • The Justice Center Access (Bush Road)project will be a new two lane roadway that will connect the main parking lot at the Lee County Justice Center and Corporate Park Drive to a signalized intersection on Gateway Drive (US280) at Hamilton Place Street.
  • The 22nd Street Alignment and 1st Avenue Widening project will re-align and rebuild 22nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue, resurface and add bicycle lanes on 1st Avenue from 22nd Street to Thomason Drive,and add a center turn lane and bicycle lane with resurfacing from Thomason Drive to 19th Street.
  • The Northpark Drive Extension for Golden State Foods project will extend Northpark Drive with a three-lane roadway to serve the new Golden State Foods Plant that is currently under construction.
  • The Downtown Signal Installation project upgraded the signals at 6th, 8th and 10th Streets on 2nd Avenue to a decorative pole and mast arm sign with upgraded pedestrian crossings. This also added traffic signals to the intersections of Spring Drive and Pepperell Parkway, and at Lake Condy/OHS and Lafayette Parkway.
  • The Destination Downtown Bicycle Lanes TAP Grant will happen in three phases: (Phase 1) South Railroad Avenue from 5th Street to Samford Avenue will be converted from two 18-ft lane roadway to two 12-ft lane roadway, and a 6-ft multi use path on the southern side of the existing roadway.
  • Roadway Repairs: We repaired and resurfaced almost 4 ½ miles of roadway in Opelika including Oak Bowery Road, Terrace Wood Drive, Anderson Road and Old Columbus Road.  Most of these roadways were widened to a safer width.  East Johnson Avenue was also paved.  These roadways, with a few others had an approximate cost of $1.5 Million.

Overall, we’re pleased with our infrastructure improvements and look forward to future projects, including a Sportsplex Connector Road from I-85 Exit 64, an extension to Frederick Road with a roundabout, and a new 40-foot wide bridge replacement on Cunningham Drive.

Opelika Power Services: FY2016 can best be described as a year of transition for Opelika Power Services. After OPS Director David Horton retired in June, Derek Lee was promoted to the position of Director. He immediately brought Brent Poteet on board as Assistant Director and the OPS team was once again complete.

During the year, Opelika Power Services branded their fiber services with the new name and new logo “OPS ONE”. This new name says it all. It’s where everything comes together to provide you with One Network Experience– video, voice and data. OPS ONE is the first community-owned GIG fiber optic network in all of Alabama, giving Opelika the BEST TV, Phone and Internet services anywhere. OPS ONE has a proud reputation for providing truly world class customer service.

Environmental Services

It’s been a fantastic year for our recycling program. During FY 2016, we recycled a total of 625 tons, saving the city approximately $16,000 in disposal fees. Of this 625 tons, cardboard accounted for 388 tons and curbside single stream accounted for 208 tons. And another 29 tons of glass, electronics, tires and clothes were processed at the Jeter Recycling center. We’ve developed a partnership with Lee County to bale and process all cardboard at their new recycling facility on Williamson Avenue and they are also opening a recycling convenience center for citizens to utilize.

You might also see a new look for our GO RED campaign. This stands for Green Opelika. Recycle.Reduce. Reuse. Every Day. You can help Opelika GO RED by signing up for our Curbside Recycling program. We currently have 700 homes using these services, but would like to reach our goal of 1,000 by early summer in order to sustain the program. This service is $10 a month.

Opelika Police Department News

In FY2016, the OPD responded to more than 80,000 total service calls. This number includes anything from a traffic stop to a domestic disturbance to a friendly interaction between an officer and a civilian to a major crime. Our officers are highly-skilled, trained and here to serve our public. Safety continues to be our number one priority.

Opelika Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy: I’m excited to announce the return of our Citizen’s Police Academy. This eight-week program is designed to give citizens an up close and personal look at the day-to-day operations of the OPD. Currently one class is offered each Spring.The 2016 class, had 19 citizen attendees.

Opelika Fire Department Updates

The Opelika Fire Department has had a busy year in 2016! The Opelika Fire Department saw several changes including new employees, promotion of current employees, new equipment purchases and upgraded training facilities.

  • OFD purchased a new 2,000-gallon-per-minute KME Fire Pumper to replace an older, less effective pumper.
  • We also purchased three new Zoll X-series heart monitors that provide the technology to allow data to be sent directly to the Emergency Room, therefore allowing the physician on staff to monitor and provide input on the patient prior to their arrival in the Emergency Room and get the patient to the cath lab quicker. Along with these monitors we purchased a Zoll Auto Pulse that can perform CPR on the patient, thereby providing the patient continued CPR while freeing up the paramedics to administer drugs and move the patient to the ambulance for transportation to the Emergency Room.
  • OFD responded to 4,764 calls in FY 2016. One of the most notable fires this year was the Old Leshner Mill (Opelika Mill).This fire required assistance from three other municipalities who provided the additional equipment and manpower needed. The incident lasted five days and used over two million gallons of water before it was extinguished.

These advances and the continued commitment for building the new Headquarters Fire Station, in 2017, have allowed the OFD to continue to provide exceptional and timely services to the citizens of Opelika.

FY 2016 Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library Facts

  • Hired Rosanna McGinnis, Director and Laurie Hackney, Reference Librarian
  • Served 125,002 people in our community
  • Circulated 121,202 items
  • Added 1,436 New Library Users
  • Held 128 story times, thereby serving 3,321 children and 1,017 adults
  • Enhanced adult programming with Crocheting and Knitting Class
  • Developed the Quiet Reading and Reference Room
  • Served 32,115 people in our Computer Lab
  • Added new digital magazines, comic books and graphic novels

2016 Public Works/ESG Reports

  • Installed 80% of our lighted street signs and hope to complete the rest in 2017
  • Completed over 18,000 work orders in 2016
  • Working on a $200,000 sidewalk renovation throughout the City in 2017
  • Plan to renovate the Train Depot in 2017

2016 Parks & Recreation Updates

  • Hosted Opelika’s first ever sanctioned United States Swimming meet at the Opelika Sportsplex. Approximately 100 swimmers from around the state participated.
  • Hosted eight ARPA swim meets during the summer months with over 1,000 swimmers involved.
  • In March, we hosted a Special Olympics swim meet and approximately 130 special needs swimmers from around the state participated.
  • Won the bid to host the 2017 State ARPA swim meet which will bring in 36 teams with close to 1,500 swimmers to Opelika. Total people visiting Opelika will be close to 4,500 for the weekend meet.
  • Returned the newly renovated Rocky Brook Rocket miniature train back to Municipal Park in Opelika. The train was renovated using donated monies from the community. In addition, we upgraded Municipal Park by adding new track for the Rocky Brook Rocket and new pavement areas for the train. We built a new train depot, added a new train shed and a new toddler focused playground area with donations from the Kohl’s for Kids foundation.
  • Added playground equipment to Bandy Park using monies from the Kohl’s for Kids monies.
  • Hosted the 5th annual seniors health fair at the Sportsplex with close to 350 seniors from the community participating.
  • Hosted the 3rd annual “KIDS TRIATHLON” at the Sportsplex with over 250 kids participating in the running, swimming and biking event.

Looking Ahead

The future of our City indeed looks bright. We have already welcomed a new city planning director, Matt Mosley; we’re beginning construction on a new headquarters fire station that should be completed by the end of 2017; and we’ve revamped our Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library with fresh carpet and paint.

We are blessed to have the best leadership in our City. Our City Council, our Administration and our employees work diligently to do what’s right for the citizens of Opelika. And because of that we are a better community. It is evident that hard work, conscientious spending and long-term planning pay off in the long run.

I thank you and encourage each of you to stay in touch with me throughout the year. Let me know if you see where we can build on today to create a better future. I appreciate your continued support and ask that you continue to pray for our leaders and citizens of our beautiful city, Opelika.

It’s an honor to serve as your Mayor.Warmest regards for a prosperous new year!

Mayor Gary Fuller's Signature

Gary Fuller