GREENVILLE — Continued community improvements and attracting younger people to the city will be areas of focus for Greenville Mayor Mike Bowers, both in 2016 and during his next four years as mayor.
Bowers, now commencing his third term as mayor, provided his thoughts on the state of the city, both in a letter attached to his annual report to Greenville City Council and in an interview conducted with the Daily Advocate.
One of Bowers’ contentions is that the city should concentrate on ways to attract younger residents.
Citing the importance of the city’s economic development, the mayor said, “We need to look forward in creating a community that has attraction for the 20- and 30-something’s that will help to make this community sustainable into the future.”
“Nothing against the 50 and 60-somes that are out there — I’m in that group, and in 30 years I’m liable not to be here,” he conceded. “Those 20- and 30-somethings, however, will be at that age where they’re making decisions for next couple generations coming up.”
“We’ve got the jobs, now how do we make Greenville a community that is attractive to 20 and 30-somethings? I think we do good with how we take care [of people] from a medical perspective. We’ve been very fortunate the last couple of years that Wayne HealthCare has done all they have. Then you have a Reid Hospital that puts a campus in the community and offers some specialized services as well.”
“We have very good facilities to take care of the elderly,” he said, “but how do we create a community sustainable for the next generation or next couple of generations?”
Bowers cited improvements to the park, downtown and schools as ways in which the city can both attract and retain the younger set.
“The focus would be on what amenities we have that not every other community has,” he said. “We have a 15-acre park right in the middle of our community. We’re looking at 2018 to bring in a bike path out by the industrial park.”
“Greenville has a certain ‘quality of life’ that helps us stand out over other communities,” he added. “Our city park is an asset that will be receiving investment dollars in the coming year.”
Bowers pointed to the planned renovation or reconstruction of the Marling Band Shell and the new peafowl house at the park. The city is also planning to add paved walkways in the park.
Greenville’s historic downtown is another selling point. Bowers calls it “a very vital part of the local economy.”
“Downtown has a great hometown feel as we have unique shopping and eating opportunities for all who visit,” he said.
Bowers cited renovations at Greenville High School and the under-construction K-8 building as having positive benefits for the community.
“The Greenville school system has also been a very valuable asset in the growth of our businesses,” he said.
Speaking of businesses, Bowers touts the recent expansion of Kitchen Aid and the city working with regional groups to further economic development.
“Our continued involvement with the Partnering for Progress initiative and using the relationships we have developed with Darke County Economic Development and the Dayton Development Coalition has truly paid dividends,” he said.
Greenville has finished the third year of its 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Bowers pointed to the completed Gardenwood and Rhoades Avenue street project and upgrades at the water treatment plant as CIP successes in 2015.
Bowers calls the CIP a “fluid document” because it allows city administrators to prioritize what needs to be done.
“We’ve got to be planning for things five, 10, 15 years down the road, being on the edge of things, being proactive as opposed to reactive,” he said. “Just making sure we have a good plan moving forward so that we can prioritize what’s going to be the most important things for 2016, 2017.”
Bowers stated the importance of grants to the city, and touted the city’s aggressiveness in seeking grants.
“Grants allow the city to maximize our tax dollars, because that’s our job, to be stewards of the tax dollars entrusted to us,” he remarked. “So we want to try to maximize those tax dollars, apply for grants where applicable, where we can get the best bang for our buck.”
The mayor commended the hard work put in by the city’s employees, and in particular, Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison and Planning & Zoning Director Chad Henry.
“I’m fortunate to have some very good folks to work with,” he said. “Curt is very astute, very good at his position as Safety/Service Director and has a very good understanding of the concepts we’re trying to move forward. Chad Henry is on board, so, if I get these ideas in my head, we put these plans and things in place. Fortunately we have good folks to move it forward.”
Looking beyond the current year, Bowers affirmed that he is planning to run again for mayor for at least one more term, if not two.
“Good Lord willing, I will get five terms in,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have been born and raised in Greenville. I’ve spent my whole life here and Greenville’s been good to me and my family. I’ve got no real want or need or reason to leave. Right now my plan is to run in four years again. We’ll take stock again at that point in time.”
He added, “If we’ve got things moving forward, and I feel we’re still being effective, I’ll continue on. Talking with folks, if they don’t feel that’s the case, that it’s time for someone else to step in, it’s always good to have new ideas, fresh blood, and look at moving things forward.”
“I think we’ve got a lot of very positive things going on in town, we’ve got a lot of good momentum, we just have to make sure that we’re capitalizing on that,” he said.