Antioch Mayor Harper offers good news, positive outlook, new downtown design concepts at annual State of the City lunchFriday, June 3rd, 2016
By Allen Payton
At the annual State of the City lunch, hosted by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and attended by about 200 business owners and community leaders on Friday, May 27, 2016 Antioch Mayor Wade Harper shared information about the progress the city has made over the past year as well as the challenges we face.
Chamber CEO Dr. Sean Wright introduced the mayor by stating “There are many exciting things happening in Antioch and at the Chamber, as well.”
Harper then thanked the city staff and his fellow council members.
“They do a wonderful job,” he stated. “They’ve had to do more with less through the years.”
He presented a slide show covering various aspects of the city’s efforts.
The first slide stated: “Antioch has recently grown to be the second largest city in Contra Costa County, with a population of approximately 112,968 according to recent state of California estimates.
Antioch is the ‘Gateway to the Delta’ and the economic as well as geographic center of East County.
Antioch is Business and Family Friendly. We encourage businesses and families to come grow with us!”
“The city’s finances have improved,” Harper stated. “Crime has decreased. We want to keep that up.”
He also shared some downsides.
“Homelessness has become a bigger problem,” he said. “City staff is working with cross-departmental task forces. This is a real problem we’re working on.”
“We are balancing our efforts with quality of life enhancements,” Harper added. “Reducing crime has always been our top priority…reducing blight, increasing economic development.”
He spoke of the weekly reports by City Manager Steve Duran as examples of being “the most transparent.”
Harper then stated the city will be “ending the fiscal year slightly over budget by about $800,000.”
He then spoke about the reduction in crime between the first quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of this year, that Police Chief Allan Cantando reported at a recent council meeting.
“Police services take up about 71% of the General Fund budget,” Harper stated.
Then he spoke about the use of Measure C funds.
“All of the funds…used for police services and code enforcement,” he said. “There’s no fudging on the numbers. We put the honest numbers out there.”
He spoke of the addition of one Code Enforcement Officer and Manager, and the hiring of the Blight Abatement Crew.
“It’s like the Bay Bridge,” stated Harper. “We have to keep at it.”
He spoke of “enhancing quality of life” with parks and the new “All Abilities Playground for children and families at the Prewett community park,” the new playground structure at Contra Loma Park, family campfire, Jr. Giants which includes 600 youth, Jr. Warriors with 200 youth, recreational pre-school affecting 500 children and the kids fishing derby.
Then Harper spoke about the recent improvements to Highway 4 including the interchange with Highway 160, and the new BART station that is to be ready by spring, 2018.
“Every time I drive by I get excited because I can see it getting built,” he shared. “I can see progress.”
Then he spoke about economic development advancements.
“This is the part I get excited about,” Harper said.
He then read highlights from the list of new businesses and space that has been leased up in town.
Harper spoke of the WalMart expansion with the new grocery section, and the addition of Hurricane Grill & Wings, the new Taco Bell at 18th and A Streets, the remodeled Denny’s on Lone Tree, Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in the former Sizzler location, and Southern Café in downtown, in the former Bases Loaded location.
“I try to get my fix regularly with Southern Café,” he joked.
He also spoke of the “nice, new, huge health club, City Sports, on Lone Tree” as well as the anticipated new restaurant “Plates in Rivertown,” Panda Express with a drive-through on Auto Center Drive, and Kangazoom soon to open in the former Golf n Games on 4th Street.
Harper said the city has “fewer vacancies overall” then mentioned the addition of Limitless Kitchen & Bath leasing up 4,400 square feet of showroom and warehouse, Alegre Trucking leasing 9.5 acres on Wilbur, WalMart leased 39,000 square feet of warehouse space and a solar distributor leasing 99,000 square feet in Antioch.
He shared that “Rivertown currently has over 80 active businesses,” that “Somersville Town Center is under new management,” that “G St. Mercantile was voted the number one antique store” in Antioch, and that “Strategic Threat Management patrols downtown.”
Then the mayor showed some design concepts of a townhome project for the old lumber yard lot, as well as concepts for an expanded event center at Waldie Plaza, across from City Hall.
Harper then compared Antioch to a patient in the hospital.
“The patient is getting regular treatment and checkups,” he stated. “It is on the way to a very healthy recovery.”
“I give this council accolades and kudos for all the hard work,” Harper concluded. “The council is everywhere. The City of Antioch is in good hands.”
Wright followed Harper’s presentation with a motivational speech of his own.
“There are multiple reasons to live in Antioch,” he said. “Business is coming. We’re having 10 new members join the Chamber each month.”
“We’re Antioch and we have people who live this city,” Wright continued. “We are a vibrant, viable, wonderful community.”
“People are going to move here to play on the Delta,” he shared. “They’re going to move here in the next year in droves, because we have affordable housing, here. We’re a community on the rise.”
“Remember, Antioch is the place to be,” Wright concluded.