The City of Newberry held its State of the City address on Thursday evening with Mayor Jordan Marlowe delivering a speech that dealt more with the character of the community than bricks, mortar and economics.
Marlowe began by acknowledging the fear that has caused reluctance to discuss the state of the city. He said Newberry has 2,700 houses and many residents worry that the next one will finish construction before his speech ends.
Newberry’s growth has fueled fear, Marlowe said, and he pointed out that the city is not only growing but rapidly.
The city’s commission has already approved 5,000 new houses to be built over the next 20 to 30 years, and pending applications could make it the fastest growing city in Alachua County and one of the top in Florida.
He fired off a list of city successes:
- $600,000 to resurface roads
- Increase graded roads budget by 500 percent
- Investing $1.3 million in smart electric meters
- $2.2 million in the local fire department
- New ambulance that reduced response times from 18 minutes to 5 minutes
- Building a $40 million wastewater treatment center
- $4.5 million grant to help pay for the wastewater center
- Creating a Community Redevelopment Agency
- Enhancing parks with $300,000
Marlowe said the last couple of years have been spent talking about the state of the city and its successes. Despite this, the conversations remain fixed on housing.
“As somebody whose family’s been here for generations, it’s getting crowded,” Marlowe said. “And the Newberry of my childhood, and some of yours, often seems like a distant memory.”
He said the reluctance to talk about the city comes from a fear the city is losing what makes it Newberry.
However, he said Newberry’s greatness comes from its character, and that character has created a city everyone wants to join.
“[Growth] happens when the character of your community shines like a beacon in a world where character seems to be quickly receding into the shadows,” Marlowe said.
The residents had made the city a community, Marlowe said, through their character, hearts and commitment to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
He added that Newberry’s community exists independent of the number of new rooftops that pop up.
Marlowe admitted that the future can be scary, adding that it was scary for the city’s ancestors who planted the seeds for the current success.
But he said the city could tackle it together.
“I know that we are doing everything humanly possible to put our descendants in a position to inherit not just a city but a community,” Marlowe said.
You can watch the full address on Facebook.
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