In first address, Nampa Mayor Bob Henry heralds lack of drive-by shootings

A new park and more money for city schools are on the horizon, says Bob Henry during his State of the City speech.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comJanuary 23, 2014 

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After Nampa Mayor Bob Henry was sworn in on Jan. 6, custodian Jayne Elliott presented him with a sign she had made.

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

  • Q&A WITH MAYOR BOB HENRY

    Q: What’s next for the city of Nampa?

    A: Library Square is underway in downtown Nampa. It is the first new construction of this scale in downtown Nampa for more than 50 years. It will open in early 2015 and be a great gathering place for families. It has been designed to be a catalyst for more development in the downtown area. We’ll be changing a couple of streets at that location to ease traffic, as well.

    Q: You’ve been in office just a few weeks. What changes have you made?

    A: Very few immediate changes. We’ve tightened up a few policies where some departments had internal “policies” so there’s more uniformity. But there’s a lot to learn first. Some supervisory roles have changed. For instance, I’ll be overseeing the Idaho Center and Civic Center so that Economic Development Director Beth Ineck can focus on recruiting new business to Nampa. That’s what she does best and it will help improve the city’s tax base.

    Q: How, if at all, will your style change as mayor as opposed to a council member?

    A: The biggest difference will be that I now represent the executive branch, not the legislative branch. I’ll be carrying out the wishes of the City Council. I won’t talk as much at City Council meetings as I have in the past. It’s going to be very different with four of the six council members brand new. And I’ll be more of a hands-on type of mayor guiding department heads.

    Q: How can residents have the most impact on their city in 2014?

    A: They can become more familiar with the issues, participate in meetings and offer up suggestions for how we can better serve them, our employers. We’ve added a link on the city’s website under Mayor’s Office where people can “Share Your Ideas.”

    Q: What are your expectations for dealing with people? What can citizens expect of you?

    A: I want people to be honest with me. I can handle it. I’m a pretty straightforward person and will usually say what’s on my mind. That gets me in trouble sometimes, but I’m learning.

    Q: What is the best thing about Nampa you wouldn't change?

    A: The quality of life. Nampa is a great place to work, live, play, thrive and develop. This is where I’ve raised my family and where my daughters are raising their families.

    Q: What is the most important thing you would change?

    A: The city’s tax burden on businesses and homeowners. We’ve got to give them some relief. It won’t happen overnight, but we’ve got to find more ways to be efficient and reduce the budget. That doesn’t mean making a bunch of staff cuts. That means working smarter and building the tax base.

    Q: What are some of your goals for 2014 as mayor?

    A: Boost economic development to expand the tax base. Operate more efficiently as a city. Maintain the quality of life that Nampa already enjoys.

    Q: Top three policy priorities?

    A: For now, we will expect departments and divisions to be more uniform in following city policies. And we’re tightening up how we’re spending money. It’s still too early to list a third policy. It’s just been two weeks.

    Q: Nampa has one of the Treasure Valley's highest crime rates. How will you address this? What are your plans for Nampa Police Department in 2014?

    A: High compared to what? We are in the middle of the pack for the valley and Nampa continues to be one of the safest cities. However, the entire valley is safe. Certainly, Nampa is safer than it was in 2006 when there were 211 drive-by shootings, or 2008 when there were 124. But the Police Department has made tremendous strides in reducing crime. There were three drive-by shootings in 2012 and five with no injuries in 2013. This is a result of the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force, NPD’s Special Investigation Unit and other partnerships with both law enforcement agencies and city departments. Not to mention our great quality of life here that includes the Boys and Girls Club, the Idaho Center, Civic Center, Rec Center and a new library that will open in 2015. Nampa Police also pinpoints high crime and high crash areas of town and then concentrates efforts for high visibility patrol in those areas. It is intelligence-based policing. We are going to continue with the same approach because it’s working. Public safety is a high priority and will remain that way.

Nampa Mayor Bob Henry, who in November defeated incumbent Tom Dale by just more than 100 votes, gave his first State of the City speech Wednesday, highlighting an improving economy, new road and park projects, and a lack of drive-by shootings.

The city is trading 77 acres it owns in south Nampa near Scism Road and Missouri Avenue for 70 acres northwest of Lonestar Middle School for a new park, Henry said. Preliminary plans for the park call for soccer fields, a dog park, picnic shelters and playgrounds.

In office less than three weeks, Henry presented his address to more than 400 people at the Nampa Civic Center.

He noted that Nampa police recorded 211 drive-by shootings in 2006: “That number dropped to five last year with zero injuries,” Henry said.

Henry gave a bouquet and a consolation gift to his wife of 37 years, Jane, who “wasn’t totally excited” when he decided to run for mayor.

“I told her if I lost the election, she and I would go to Hawaii for two weeks. As you know it was a close election and she hasn’t told me who she voted for,” quipped Henry, who placed a Hawaiian lei around his wife’s neck.

Other highlights of Henry’s speech:

- The Nampa school board is “taking a calculated risk” asking voters to approve a $3.4 million levy, Henry said. “The district certainly can justify the need. Between their own well-publicized problems and the cuts at the state level made to education, the need is obvious,” he said. “Please make your decision based on the merit of the request, not based on your frustration with the Nampa city levy rate.”

- With a $1 million sponsorship, the Idaho Center is now named the Ford Idaho Center. The agreement includes the national Ford brand and seven local dealerships. Henry said he wants Canyon County to consider moving its fair to the city-owned facility.

- Nampa’s average home price, nearly $140,000, is the highest since 2008. Its November unemployment rate, 5.6 percent, is the lowest for that month since 2007.

- Planning and zoning applications increased 24 percent in 2013. Construction permits in 2013 totaled $101.3 million, including two Saint Alphonsus Hospital buildings, Norco Medical building, Broadmore Vineyards and Aspen Creek apartments, Asian Market building, Cracker Barrel Restaurant, Jimmy Johns Restaurant, two Starbucks, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and 327 homes.

- A new signal at Middleton Road and Roosevelt Street will be completed this year. A signal at Middleton and Flamingo Avenue is slated for 2015.

- A $5 million Middleton and Karcher roads intersection improvement project will begin next fall or winter.

- Work on converting 11th and 12th avenues downtown to one-way and adding sidewalks and parking is slated to begin this summer and finish later this fall. The work is for Library Square, due to open in early 2015.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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