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Murray Journal

Mayor declares the state of Murray strong, but still has challenges

Feb 26, 2019 02:28PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Mayor Blair Camp’s State of the City address highlighted his administration’s focus on vacant commercial buildings, Murray’s downtown and Murray Theater renovation. (Photo courtesy of Murray City)

By Shaun Delliskave | s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

Strong but not without challenges is how Murray Mayor Blair Camp summarized his State of the City address. At the Feb. 5 City Council meeting, Camp, in his annual address, quoted researcher Abraham Maslow: “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.” Camp added, “We will step forward into growth.”

In his review, Camp noted that accolades were bestowed on Murray’s Finance Department and library. Both were recognized with national citations for excellence. Also of note, Camp highlighted that there were 30,000 patrons at Murray’s cultural arts performances in 2018.

One of the most noticed challenges to the city were from the effects of Operation Rio Grande, which attempted to address the homeless problem in downtown Salt Lake but had ripple effects into neighboring communities. “Our police department, under the leadership of Chief Craig Burnett, has continued to experience an increase in call volume relating to the transient and unsheltered population. There have been efforts to focus police presence in areas that are frequented by these individuals and directed patrol shifts have been used this year.”

By the numbers, Murray Fire Department’s three stations responded to over 6,000 emergency calls in 2018, with 5,000 of those being for emergency medical services. On average, that means Murray FD responded to a call every one hour and 15 minutes. Other numbers of note: Murray’s Streets Division filled over 641 potholes and laid 4,673 tons of asphalt.

Murray Parks and Recreation completed a major overhaul of the pool areas of the Park Center with new pool decks in place, and the Murray Park pickleball courts were finally completed. Park pavilions will be the new emphasis on improvement for the city this year.

Focusing on his own initiatives, Camp reported that, in an effort to provide more transparency in government operations, the city now does online streaming of City Council and Planning Commission meetings. He also announced that the Murray City Adopt-A-Street program will commence in the spring.

In his hopes for a more walkable and rideable community, Camp pointed to the bike lanes added to 700 West and the plans to add bike lanes along Vine Street within the next two years. As for Green Bikes, Camp states there is still work to be done.

“We have been working with Green Bikes on costs and feasibility and have developed a concept plan. A small but interesting development has been the introduction of other modes of alternative transportation, such as electric scooters and electric bicycles. At present, we have not come to a conclusion on the best direction to proceed, but we will continue to evaluate options and explore possible funding.”

This year, Camp stated his goal will be to eliminate or greatly reduce empty commercial buildings in Murray City by proactive engagement with property owners through the Community and Economic Development Department. Murray has several big box stores that are or will soon be vacant, such as the former Kmart store on 900 East and Shopko on State Street.

The mayor’s second initiative is to proactively advocate for new development in the Murray City Center District to reverse disinvestment in that area over the past many years, by working closely with the Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors. He also mentioned that plans for the new city hall are still moving forward.

Third, the mayor wants the Cultural Arts Division, the Finance and Administration Department, and the City Council to address funding for the Murray Theater renovation. The city received a grant from Salt Lake County for the theater remodel but needs to come up with $3.6 million in matching funds.

Camp emphasized his desire for all departments to have continuous quality improvement. He highlighted that all departments had significant achievements but said there were still areas to improve upon. He also stressed the need for continuous improvement in the areas of social media use and technology. 

In closing, Camp paraphrased one of motivational speaker Tony Robbins’ famous quotes: “I won't worry about maintaining the quality of Murray City, because every day I work on improving it.”