On the morning of Jan. 4, O’Fallon residents filled the city council chambers at O’Fallon Municipal Center [City Hall] to hear Mayor Bill Hennessy deliver the 2019 State of the City address.
Hennessy began the address with a welcome to Interim Police Chief Gary George, who joined the police department in December and will serve until a permanent police chief begins active employment. George was assigned to the role followed the retirement of former Police Chief Roy Joachimstaler in 2018, after 50 years in law enforcement.
Hennessy also announced that Mike Snowden has accepted the position of city administrator and will be up for approval by the city council later this month. Snowden previously served as an O’Fallon Councilmember in Ward 5 and is returning to the city from a job in Indiana, where he served as executive director of Hamilton Country’s 911 system.
In the meantime, Lenore Toser-Aldaz will continue to serve as O’Fallon’s interim city administrator. The previous city administrator, David Strahl, resigned effective Oct. 22, 21018.
Before addressing upcoming projects, Hennessy stated that the city was coming off 2018 with, “strong tax revenues, a growing business environment and growth in residential housing.”
“In 2018, our city saw more than $140,000,000 in construction investment, and 4,700 permits were issued, including 305 for single and multi-family homes,” Hennessy said in his Jan. 4 address. “We expect to see that kind of growth again in 2019.”
One example of the city’s growing infrastructure is the completion of the first phase of the I-70 Traffic Flow Improvements Project. The new East Terra outer road is now one-way from T.R. Hughes to Main Street, with a new access ramp added to ease traffic at the Main Street and I-70 interchange.
In 2019, officials say the south outer road along I-70 will be completed to include elements like driver-friendly U-turns, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and additional traffic signals.
“Interstate connections at the north and south ends of O’Fallon are the doors to our city, and the improvements to the I-70 corridor will make our city even more accessible,” Hennessy said in his address.
At I-64’s intersection with Hwy. DD, the first phase of the Missouri Rush Sports Park is also complete, and the development of O’Day Park, just off Hwy. DD, will add amenities like paved and natural trails, a playground, banquet hall and amphitheater. The city’s tourism and festivals department is currently in the process of planning events for the space, including concerts and educational presentations.
According to Hennessy, a new Hwy. K path connecting Technology Drive to Laura Hill Road is going to assist further infrastructure and road development in the city.
“I have noticed more people taking advantage of this multiuse path to get some exercise and visit the many stores and restaurants along Hwy. K,” Hennessy said. “Our goal is to include improved walking and biking access to other areas of our city as we make future road improvements.”
The city’s streets department spent about $3.5 million on concrete, joint seal and overall asphalt maintenance in 2018. In 2019, an estimated $2.7 million more will be spent on neighborhood street renovation, with an emphasis on older asphalt roads. Also in 2019, about $4.5 million in upgrades will be added along Mexico, Bryan, Hoff and Bramblett roads, with MoDOT collaborating on improvements at Lake St. Louis Boulevard and Sommers Road in the southern part of the city.
O’Fallon is currently undergoing a traffic study to evaluate its road system and determine ongoing road and infrastructure needs within city limits. Hennessy said the study would examine possible impact to about 88,000 residents and an estimated 1,800 businesses.
“Having this data is crucial because as our city grows, our budgets continue to tighten,” Hennessy said. “Funding from the state, federal government and outside grants continues to shrink, and we are forced to look internally for additional funding. Unfortunately, the growth in online shopping is threatening cities across the country, including O’Fallon.”
As a result, the city’s economic development and communications departments collaborated to create SelectOFallon.com. The website will provide corporations or other entities access to information regarding the city’s real estate, tax incentives and more. In 2019, the city also will roll out a national marketing campaign to pursue more economic opportunities, including a sports tourism market analysis.
The city has designated its downtown as an area of emphasis for economic development in 2019. This includes the creation of a Downtown Overlay District and economic development “toolkit” to help develop the area without compromising historical elements.
“We believe the key to attracting and sustaining commercial progress is access, and the more, the better,” Hennessy said.
Coinciding with residential and commercial growth, the city is continuing water and sewer infrastructure upgrades in multiple neighborhoods and business districts.
For example, the city began a five-year project to replace all the water mains in the Forest Park subdivision last year and will use its sanitary lining and rehabilitation program to line about 12 miles of sanitary sewer mains with special cured-in-place pipe in 2019. Impacted areas include I-70 north to Tom Ginnever Avenue and Westridge Drive to T.R. Hughes Boulevard. Along Bryan Road, a $2.6 million Peruque Creek force and gravity main project is underway with a new sanitary sewer main, and the biosolids dewatering improvements project will attempt to decrease odors around the city’s plant.
In addition to infrastructure improvements, Hennessy also discussed the ongoing changes to the city’s recycling programs that will impact the local community into 2019. Curbside collection of paper and cardboard goods ceased in 2018, with O’Fallon residents having to drop the materials off at the city’s justice and municipal centers. Clean aluminum cans, glass jars or bottles, tin cans and plastic containers continue to be collected curbside.
“It wasn’t a change we wanted to make, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but it was something we had to do,” Hennessy said.
A new paper and cardboard recycling drop-off location at Renaud Center is scheduled to come online later in January. Hennessy also announced the intent to add an additional drop-off location later in the year.
“We are already looking at what other communities, both local and around the country are doing,” Hennessy said. “We will do our research and will conduct cost-benefit analyses of all of these ideas as we go forward to see if any of them will work here in O’Fallon.”
Overall, Hennessy cited optimism about the multiple projects planned for 2019.
“As we close out this decade and move into the 2020s, we are ready to build on our strong past and reach new heights here in O’Fallon,” he said.
To watch the full address, visit ofallon.mo.us.