The State of the City address Naperville Mayor George Pradel delivered Monday was part flashback and part forecast, highlighting accomplishments of a year Pradel called "outstanding," and looking forward to another year of development, excitement and "setting the bar higher."
Pradel said Naperville completed 2013 in a state that is "strong and getting stronger." He said the city has developed into the standard-setting community it is through leadership, partnerships, economic development and financial stewardship -- all things he expects to continue into this year and beyond.
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"We have a strong, stable foundation, great partnerships and a will to always improve the quality of life for all of our residents," Pradel said.
As Naperville's mayor of 19 years took the stage Monday afternoon in front of a crowd of about 400 at the Marriott hotel, a video screen played clips from events and activities such as Ribfest, the Naperville Marathon and the Festival of Colors.
Pradel used video clips throughout his speech to bring more voices to the annual update on city business given at a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Each member of the city council got to make an on-screen cameo to tout a favorite program that will carry into this year. Plans to build an environmental collection center, install a traffic management system and continue funding programs that help prevent heroin abuse and suicide were among efforts council members highlighted.
City staff members and community members also appeared in video clips explaining the top 13 reasons 2013 was, as Pradel said, "such a great year for Naperville."
Among them were the beginning of construction to expand and resurface Route 59; the creation of Chinese and Indian volunteer community outreach positions; the maintenance of a AAA bond rating; and Naperville's ranking as the top U.S. city in which to retire early, one of the top mid-size cities to move to and the nation's fourth-safest mid-size city.
Pradel said he attended 62 ribbon-cuttings in 2013 and even one toilet paper-tearing and ceremonial first flush, the latter as the city unveiled new permanent washrooms at the Community Concert Center in Central Park last May.
"We realize that even minor projects mean a lot to people because they improve Naperville's quality of life," Pradel said.
As 2014 continues, the city is anticipating the scheduled March opening of a new Wal-Mart on 75th Street near Route 59 and the April opening of a new grocery store Pradel called "trendy," Standard Market on Aurora Avenue just east of Ogden Avenue.
"We are so excited to see so many great developments coming to Naperville," Pradel said before he wrapped up his speech with a reminder of his constant pride in his community. "I'm proud to call Naperville home and to be a public servant to the greatest community I have ever known. Let's keep setting the bar higher every year and striving to create a better tomorrow."