By Angelo Parlove
Saline Mayor Brian Marl ran the gamut at his State of the City Address this week – managing public resources and dollars, needed repairs on the Rec Center roof, public safety and the city’s infrastructure, including roads, sidewalks and wastewater plant improvements, to name a few.
“We have much to be grateful for in the Saline area,” Marl said at the close of the speech, which was made during the city council meeting July 3. “Our strategic position is strong, our vision for the future is clear and the character and commitment of our people is unwavering.”
However, it was economic growth that topped the mayor’s State of the City Address, with Marl tackling the commercial expansion on the City of Saline’s east side and downtown areas, as well as the growth in residential development within the city boundaries.
“City council and staff will continue to focus on the issues that matter most to our residents, paramount among these is business attraction and retention and creating an environment where our local economy can grow and mature,” he said.
Marl first touted the new Emagine Theatre in the Commons at Sauk Trail Shopping Center and the renewed interest in vacant store fronts in the complex. The mayor also said progress continues on the stand-alone Ace Hardware, boutique hotel and Zippy Auto Wash planned for the Sauk Trail Business Park.
“We are excited about additional economic activity on our city’s eastern border,” he said.
The mayor then recognized the development of new small businesses in the downtown area, citing Matty J’s Bakery and Restaurant, McPherson Local, the Saline Cheese Shop, Sweet Lai Lana’s Desserts and Smokehouse 52 BBQ.
“Needless to say our historic and aesthetically pleasing downtown is one of the things that makes Saline unique, and these new additions will enhance the quality of our downtown,” he added.
However, Marl warned of challenges in the core of the city’s downtown, particularly parking. The mayor said city council, Saline Main Street and local business and property owners will meet in August to discuss strategy and approaches to resolve the “potentially growing” parking issue.
Yet, the mayor did not leave out the city’s west side in the economic development talk. In the near future, Marl plans to renew efforts and organize ongoing discussions to engage business and property owners on the west side.
“While we’re excited about the increased commercial activity on our eastern border and in our downtown, it must continue to be a goal to increase the economic vitality of our west side,” he said.
Marl capped off the topic of economic growth in his State of the City Address by naming several residential projects underway in the city, including Cypress Ridge, Curtiss Bluffs, Risdon Heights, Maple Oaks, Linden Square Phase II, Fairdene, Cascade Pointe and Maple Cove.
“I am proud to say the City of Saline and the planning commission specifically have been very thoughtful and strategic about the proposals that have been presented for consideration,” he said. “Progress continues on a number of appealing and attractive developments.”