Category Archives: Updates

Stay Connected to Your City

Spring has sprung in Surprise, signaling a time when many of our residents head to “less warm” locations to spend the summer months….

While you are away, I encourage you to stay engaged with what is happening here in Surprise. This amazing and rapidly-growing city has so many exciting things happening, that I wouldn’t want you to miss out on.

How can you stay connected?

The city’s Marketing and Communications Department offers a myriad of ways you can stay on top of what’s happening here, so when you return later this fall, you won’t have missed a thing.

A quick visit to www.surpriseaz.gov will provide you with the latest news and updates through the news section on the homepage. While online you can also browse the calendar of events, which are broken up by a public meetings calendar and an all-events calendar.

You can continue to watch City Council meetings while out of town, as all of our meetings and work sessions, as well all Surprise TV programming, are streamed live on www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv. A reminder, that Council does not meet in the month of July for the summer recess.

Another great way to stay connected is to sign up for the Notify Me email list. Visit www.surpriseaz.gov/notifyme, type in your email address and make the selections for what type of information you would like to have emailed to you.

There are many options to choose from including all Current News Releases, Council Agendas and I personally have my own District 2 list in which I share city and district-based news to those that sign up. After your selections are made, click the ‘Sign In’ button to begin receiving city news directly to your email account.

You can get social with the city too! Follow us on Twitter @AZSurprise. Like us on Facebook /CityofSurprise or watch our latest videos on YouTube /SurpriseTV11.

Did you know?

The Surprise Police Department offers the no-cost Vacation Watch program to residents who will be out of town for a minimum of two weeks. Through this program, our Citizen Patrol volunteers will check your home on a recurring basis looking to make sure things remain secure while you are away. You can register for this program by calling 623.222.4277.

For those residents that will be away for four months or longer, you also have the option to temporarily suspend your trash/recycling service. The service fee is $55, to cover the cost of can pickup, restocking and redelivery. The charge will appear on your next bill following the requested date of suspension. Your billing will automatically start up again after your normal service resumes. For more information on how to enroll call Public Works at 623.222.6000.

I love being part of this connected community and I know you do to, that’s why even when we leave for short periods of time, we always return home to Surprise!

Building a Safe Surprise – Begins With You

Here in the City of Surprise we have a great public safety team at work. In this article, I’d like to share the latest happenings within the Surprise Police and Fire-Medical Departments.

Police on alert for property crime:

Surprise Police report that approximately 64% of all thefts from vehicles are the result of people leaving their car doors unlocked or leaving items of value in the car where would-be-thieves can easily see them. The theory behind our “Lock it or Lose it” campaign is simple – if the thieves can see it, they will steal it.

No one wants to be a victim of crime, that’s why I am passing along the Surprise Police Department’s reminder that the majority of thefts from vehicles are preventable. Here are some safety tips to follow:

  • Always lock your car! By simply locking your car doors and taking valuables with you, you dramatically reduce the risk of being a crime victim.
  • Park in a secure and well lit location.
  • Don’t leave valuable items in plain sight. Lock them in the trunk or take them with you.
  • Park in your home garage.

Police Chief Terry Young says nearly 95% of crime in Surprise is property crime and the vast majority is from items being stolen from open garages or unlocked vehicles. Property crime is a category of crime that includes, among other crimes, burglary, larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Property crime involves the taking of property, and does not involve force or threat of force against a victim. The good news is more than 70% of property crimes are preventable! Again it comes down to closing your garage door and locking your car.

To report a crime or suspicious activity, call Surprise Police at 623.222.4000. If it is an emergency or dangerous situation, please dial 9-1-1 immediately.

Another concern is that traffic accidents are on the rise. That’s why the City recently launched a new traffic safety campaign aimed at encouraging safe driving habits. The slogan: “Drive Wise, Surprise.”

According to Chief Young, every year, traffic accidents increase by an average of 8-to-10 percent amid a growing population. This campaign is designed to create a culture of safe driving in Surprise, whether you are a resident or a visitor driving through the city.

The campaign uses play on words and bright, creative imagery to deploy safety reminders via new street signage that you will see across the city. While the campaign may sound playful, the intention behind it is more serious.

“When you are practicing good driving habits, you are helping to make the road safer for everyone,” says Chief Young. “Getting to your destination faster is not worth a serious injury; driving distracted or under the influence is not worth a life.”

This message is especially relevant as accident statistics increase and bad driving behaviors continue:

  • Surprise saw an 8 percent increase in accidents from 2014 to 2015 and a 10 percent increase in accidents from 2015 to 2016.
  • Arizona Department of Transportation reported a statewide increase of more than 6 percent from 2014 to 2015.
  • About 87 percent of drivers engage in unsafe behaviors behind the wheel, according to national research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
  • Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in a one year period, according to a national study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In addition to street signs, the campaign includes community and media engagement, social media messaging, ads, a public service announcement and various other marketing tools. We invite residents to help us with how we can evolve the message so it remains meaningful and impactful.

If you’d like to learn more, the Sun City Grand Neighborhood watch meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 4:30 pm at the Sonoran Plaza. Additionally, Surprise Police Department hosts “Coffee with a Cop” each month. Residents can also access our crime mapping system by going to www.raidsonline.com. For more information, please contact our Community Action line at 623.222.4140.

For those residents that reached out about noise pollution along Bell Road…. Chief Young has increased patrol for this particular area. In addition to increased patrol for the noise pollution, our bike patrol enforcement has also increased to help prevent residents from becoming a victim of crime and to educate our residents to “Lock It or Lose It”.

The Evolution of Surprise Fire-Medical:

Fire-Medical Chief Tom Abbott and I spent time together to discuss the transformation of the fire service over the last four decades. Since many of us transplant ourselves here from other states, we don’t fully understand how our fire departments operate differently from those across the country. It is helpful to thoroughly comprehend how the emergency system here in the valley works.

The Phoenix Fire Department is one of the largest fire departments in the country and their Regional Dispatch Center provides fire and emergency medical dispatching services for approximately 26 Valley jurisdictions directly, including Surprise, and 3 entities indirectly. This service area is over 2,000 square miles!

This regional system is known as Automatic Aid and it began in January 1981. This time-tested deployment system provides the closest most appropriate fire service resource regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

In most communities outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area, jurisdictional lines prevent firefighters from entering neighboring towns and cities, although they may be closer to the emergency call. In the Valley, the closest, most appropriate resource is dispatched regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

What does this mean to you? The Automatic Aid system provides Valley communities, including Surprise, with the highest level of efficiency, service and effectiveness. This system gets first-responders to you faster, reduces resources and personnel costs for each participating community. And because the Phoenix Regional Dispatch Center currently partners with the Mesa Regional Dispatch Center to dispatch most of the communities in the Valley, that eliminates the need for each of 26 participating agencies to pay for their own dispatch center.

Cost savings do not end there…ISO (Insurance Service Office) ratings determine a portion of how much you pay for homeowners and business insurance premiums. The ISO categorizes municipalities and fire districts from 10 – 1, with 1 being the best. Due to Automatic Aid, the city of Surprise currently holds a rating of 2. According to Fire Chief Abbott, in all likelihood our rating would be 4 without automatic aid.

Another benefit to the Automatic Aid System is that it puts us in a better position during large catastrophic incidents. During these large scale incidents, we rely on our partners to send resources. They also backfill our fire stations and run our calls when our firefighters are committed to other incidents and our resources are depleted. Additionally, the regional partnership provides our firefighters with the ability to utilize state-of-the-art regional training facilities that provide the most innovative training.

The protection of life and property is the mission of the Surprise Public Safety Teams!

We’ve placed police and fire stations strategically across geographic regions, commensurate with population densities and workload needs. While Automatic Aid provides us with innumerable benefits, we must continue to follow growth trends to ensure we have the proper number of fire stations and police stations/sub stations available in the right areas to continue to keep Surprise a safe and thriving community.

Sustaining Surprise’s Water Supply

Jacques Cousteau said, “We forget that the Water Cycle and the Life Cycle are one.” Water isn’t just an asset to us individually; it is an asset critical to the long-term success, economic development, and overall sustainability of everyone.

Water History In Arizona

Water has always been Arizona’s most valuable resource. Native Americans understood that to survive in the desert, water had to be located where it was needed. When it was discovered that Arizona’s soil was able to support crop production, modern farmers had two options for water. The first option was to utilize nearby surface water supplies, such as rivers and streams. The second option was to drill and mine groundwater. Surface water supplies were so valuable that, in certain parts of the state, farmers used their land as collateral to construct dams, reservoirs, and canal systems to control and distribute water. Such was the case in the early 1900’s when the Salt River Project (SRP) was formed. This is where the Salt and Verde river systems provide water and electric power to farms and municipalities for much of the Phoenix Metro area. Years later, the Central Arizona Project (CAP) was constructed to bring about 1.5 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River to Central and Southern Arizona every year. It is a 336-mile long system of aqueducts, tunnels, pumping plants and pipelines and is the largest single resource of renewable water supplies in Arizona and is Surprise’s primary renewable water source. More than 5 million people, or more than 80% of the state’s population, live in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties, where CAP water is delivered.

In 1980, the State of Arizona passed the Groundwater Management Act to address the increased usage of groundwater, primarily for farming purposes. The excessive pumping caused a reduction in the groundwater supplies and an increase in instances of land subsidence. The Groundwater Code promotes water conservation and long-range planning of our groundwater resources. Through this Act, the most populated areas were placed into Active Management Areas (AMAs) where the primary source of water for use in farming and municipal uses must be from renewable sources, or sources other than groundwater. Since the enactment of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act the use of groundwater has declined, despite a growth in Arizona’s population.

AZ Water Use Chart

Challenges Facing Arizona

Now more than ever, water management is facing significant challenges: available supplies of renewable water are limiting, demand for water is rising, delivery infrastructure is getting older and an extended period of drought is threatening current supplies. All of this leads to rising costs to treat or acquire new sources and to construct and maintain infrastructure to deliver water.

While all of this sounds dire, Arizona has taken considerable steps to hedge against catastrophic events; however, more work needs to be done to ensure sustainable water supplies. Such steps include the elimination of invasive plant species that tap in surface water supplies, increasing water conservation and education on effective water management, growing the number of water sources for the state, and expanding the abilities of the CAP and other systems to transport new water sources.

Water sustainability needs to be a top priority at the state and federal level. State and federal government must work together to continue to support water policies and programs that encourage water efficiencies.

What Does This Mean For Surprise

Along with federal and state leadership, the Surprise City Council also recognizes the vital role water plays in our daily lives, now and well into the future. That’s why we continue to expand our water supply to meet future demand. Some of our city’s best practices include efficient water management; streamlined water operations; maximizing of groundwater recharge; and we carry a strong, diversified water portfolio.

Another significant moment in our city’s water management history came in 2014, when City Manager Bob Wingenroth formed the Water Resource Management (WRM) Department to focus the city’s efforts in achieving best management practices. In addition to constantly striving to provide water services in an efficient and cost effective fashion, WRM also explores new avenues for the city to acquire new sources of water and water rights.

Furthermore, City Council believes there is much more to be done concerning water conservation. Council supports efforts in assisting residents to manage their own water use wisely. Wise water use by customers reduces the demand on the system, infrastructure, and need to acquire new sources as rapidly. And, efficient water use will save the customer money on their bill too.

I’d like to thank Surprise resident and water advocate Ken Wright and Water Resource Management Director Terry Lowe for their input and for educating us on their passion!

Lastly, I’d like to provide you with an update on the Stormwater Utility. The City adopted a Stormwater Utility fee which went into effect November 1, 2016. Customers enrolled in the annual prepay program for city sewer and/or sanitation services will see the annual Stormwater Utility fee for the January – December 2017 billing period on their annual statement. Unlike the annual sewer and sanitation fees, the annual Stormwater fee of $24 does not receive the 5% discount. Any unpaid Stormwater balances from your November or December bills will be included in the January annual prepay bill and the City is waiving all late fees.

January 2017 – New Year Fitness

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when many of us begin to focus on fitness to kick-off our resolution of improving ourselves.

While the city has about one-third, to half the number of recreational offerings of our peer communities per population, we do have some amazing parks and programs currently to help promote a healthy lifestyle. Let’s explore some of them…

Surprise Community ParkThe Surprise Community Park, 15953 N. Bullard Avenue, offers various playground units, 4 lighted basketball courts, 8 lighted pickleball courts, and 2 lighted sand volleyball courts. Additional amenities include 10 ramadas, picnic tables, restrooms, drinking fountains, barbecue facilities, a 5 acre urban fishing lake with accessible dock and a dog park.

Asante Community Park, 16763 W. Vereda Solana Drive, is located in northern Surprise. The park offers 2 playground units, 2 lighted soccer fields, 2 lighted softball/baseball fields, 4 lighted basketball courts and walking paths with exercise stations. Other amenities include 5 ramadas, 2 restrooms, drinking fountains, barbecue facilities, picnic tables and a wonderful World War II memorial.

Heritage ParkHeritage Park, 15073 W. Sweetwater Avenue, is located in central Surprise in the Marley Park neighborhood. The park offers a playground unit, splash pad, walking paths and 2 lighted softball fields. Other amenities include 5 ramadas, 1 pavillion, barbecue facilities, picnic tables, drinking fountains and restrooms.

Surprise Farms Community Park, 17894 Westpark Boulevard, is conveniently located near Loop 303 and Bell Road. Amenities include 4 softball fields, open green spaces which can be utilized for fitness activities, walking paths, 2 playground units, 2 ramadas, a lighted and fenced skate park, a splash pad, drinking fountains and restrooms. This newer park also offers a dog park.

The Community and Recreation Services Department offers over 1,900 programs in the areas of youth and adult sports, aquatics, adaptive recreation, special interest classes and other activities. In addition to the parks, we have a 140 acre recreation campus, 3 recreation centers, 2 aquatics centers and a 24 court tennis center.

The winter season of Adult sports features Men’s Softball, Co-Ed Softball, Basketball and Flag Football. Multiple seasons of all of these sports are offered throughout the year. If you haven’t taken advantage of our incredible facilities or programs, I would encourage you to consider them and absorb the beautiful amenities we have right here!

Do you want to find the fountain of youth? Look no further…we have the amenities within our city limits and Sun City Grand. If we want to stay young and healthy, fitness needs to be one of our top priorities. It’s never too late to start a fitness program. How do we start? I recently met with Roz Locker, Occupational Therapist, Personal Trainer and fellow Sun City Grand resident regarding fitness and motivation. Together we suggest the following:

  • Consult your doctor before beginning any fitness program.
  • Pick a reasonable goal, don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Find a trainer or knowledgeable friend to help you learn the right way.
  • Be accountable for someone else, it helps keep you accountable as well.
  • Minimum 3 day per week commitment
  • Consistency is key
  • Find something you are comfortable with. Your success is contingent upon it!
  • Remember you are not limited to the gym. We are surrounded by numerous amenities

While cost of a trainer may concern some residents, it is possible that your insurance may cover wellness. Some of us may have had physical therapy prescribed for us. We can always utilize the expertise of that therapist to begin a program as well. Furthermore, conditioning prior to any surgical procedure is important to your recovery.

The benefits of fitness can’t possibly be measured. The endorphins and chemicals produced from working out not only benefit our hearts but also our minds. It provides us with the power of confidence and improved self-image. Fitness helps raise our awareness about the foods we consume and help makes us more mindful of nutrition and the supplements we take. It helps us build our social circle…It helps us build camaraderie with our gym mates. It is important to remember that results are not immediate – approximately 3 months at the earliest providing your fitness routines are consistent.

The health of our city is important but so is the health of our residents! I hope we start the New Year taking care of ourselves!

Councilmember Jim Hayden

December 2016 – Introduction

Hello neighbors!

It has been an honor to live in Sun City Grand for the past 12 years and now it is my privilege and honor to serve you as District 2 City Councilmember.

For those of you who may have been out of town the past few months, I was appointed by the Surprise City Council to serve the remainder of the term for the District 2 council seat in October. I will be sworn into my new four-year term in January.

I have had the great pleasure of meeting so many new people in my new role, but for those I haven’t personally met, I’d like to introduce myself.

I served on the Glendale Fire Department as a firefighter and EMT for 22 years. Prior to that I respectfully served our country for 20 years in the United States Air Force where I trained pilots with critical skills needed to survive warlike conditions.  Like many of the courageous veterans I have met, I am also a Vietnam War veteran.

I currently serve as Adjunct Faculty at Glendale Community College, teaching Fire Science and Emergency Medical Technicians and serve on the city’s Public Safety Retirement Board.

I have been a public servant my entire life, to me, it is my vocation. I’ll be writing to you each month to share the latest news and information about this great city we call home.

I am available to you at any time. Please feel free to reach out to me at jim.hayden@surpriseaz.gov or call 623.222.1322. You can also sign up to receive my newsletter via email by clicking the Notify Me button on my website http://d2.surpriseaz.gov .

Another great way to find out what’s happening in Surprise is to attend one of my two monthly meetings in which I plan to share city news with you and hear what’s on your mind. On the first Tuesday of each month I host a meeting at 10 a.m. – Noon, in Sun City Grand’s Palm Center, in the Mediterranean Room, 19726 N. Remington Drive. On the second Tuesday of the month my meeting is at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m., in Arizona Traditions, Neighborhood Center, 18265 N. Traditions Loop.

We are well into the holiday season and I know you join me in celebrating the opening of the Bell Road Bridge over Grand Avenue! Thank you to the local businesses in that area for your patience and to those of you that continued to shop and support them. Shopping your hometown businesses helps to create jobs and generates sales taxes to pay for police, fire-medical and street maintenance!

Although the bridge is open, construction on the overall Bell-Grand project runs through February 2017, so please continue to shop this area.

I want to close by wishing all of you a very Happy Holiday Season! This is great time of year when we connect with friends, neighbors and family. I look forward to sharing more great things with you in the New Year!

Happy Holidays,

Jim Hayden, District 2 Councilmember

Hayden appointed to District 2 council seat

Jim Hayden was appointed by the Surprise City Council, Tuesday night, to serve out the remainder of the term for the District 2 (D2) council seat.

That seat was vacated by the incumbent in September 2016.

For 22 years, Jim served on the Glendale Fire Department as a fire fighter and EMT.

He is a Vietnam War veteran and served 20 years in the United States Air Force, where he trained pilots with critical skills needed to survive wartime conditions.

He also serves as Adjunct Faculty at Glendale Community College, teaching Fire Science and Emergency Medical Technicians.

Prior to joining council, he served as Chairman of the Surprise Public Safety Retirement Board.

Jim will serve out the remainder of the current District 2 term which ends December 31, 2016.  Having won the District 2 seat in the August 2016 Primary Election, Jim’s four-year term will begin on January 1, 2017.

Jim and his wife Nancy have lived in Sun City Grand for 12 years.

D2 includes the following neighborhoods: Sun City Grand, Bell West Ranch and portions of Arizona Traditions.

Council to appoint D2 applicant in Oct. 18th Meeting

The Surprise City Council will vote to appoint Jim Hayden to the vacant District 2 council seat at the October 18th City Council Meeting, 6 p.m., in City Hall- Council Chambers. He will be sworn in at that meeting.

Hayden is the lone applicant, after Martha Bails withdrew her applications during the City Council’s Special Meeting, Oct. 4.

Hayden is a retired firefighter and served 20 years in the United States Air Force. He currently serves as Chairman of the Surprise Public Safety Retirement Board. He also won the District 2 seat in the August Primary, with that four-year term set to begin on January 1, 2017. He has lived in Surprise for 12 years.

View his application

Per city code, a public comment period concludes October 12, 5 p.m.  Hayden will serve out the remainder of the current District 2 term which ends December 31, 2016.

The meeting will be carried live on Surprise TV and online at surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv.

Council to interview D2 applicants in Oct. 4 Special Meeting

The Surprise City Council will meet to interview the two applicants seeking the vacant District 2 council seat in a Special Meeting, October 4, at 4 p.m., in City Hall- Council Chambers.

The applicants are Jim Hayden and Martha Bails, both residents of Sun City Grand.

Hayden is a retired firefighter and served 20 years in the United States Air Force. He currently serves as Chairman of the Surprise Public Safety Retirement Board. He also won the District 2 seat in the August Primary, with that four-year term set to begin on January 1, 2017. He has lived in Surprise for 12 years.

Bails is retired and served on the Surprise City Council 2003 – 2007. Prior to that she served on the Planning and Zoning Commission from 2000 – 2003. She also served as a volunteer on the Surprise Citizens Patrol from 2009 – 2011. She has lived in Surprise for 17 years.

See the agenda | View the applicants applications

This meeting is an interview-only meeting, council will not take action. A public comment period on the applicants will conclude October 12, 5 p.m.  Selection of the applicant will take place on Tuesday, October 18, 6 p.m. at the Regular Council Meeting. The selected candidate will serve out the remainder of the current District 2 term which ends December 31, 2016.

The meeting will be carried live on Surprise TV and online at surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv.

Residents feel safe & love living in Surprise; seek more local jobs & transportation solutions

The 2015 National Citizen Survey (NCS) results are in and nearly 90% of residents rate Surprise as a great place to live and would recommend living here.

The NCS serves as the city’s service report card, and the collected data assists in setting future city priorities.

The survey captures residents’ opinions within three community pillars: Community Characteristics, Governance & Participation. These are broken down into eight categories: Safety, Mobility/Transportation, Natural Environment, Built Environment, Economy, Recreation & Wellness, Education & Enrichment and Community Engagement. Across these eight categories the city’s results were similar to over 200 peer cities across the United States.

According to the survey, the areas that are most important to Surprise residents are safety, mobility/transportation and the economy.

The city rated above the national benchmark in the following categories:
(% selected excellent/good)

88% overall appearance of the city (cleanliness)
86% recommend Surprise as a place to retire
84% Street lighting
83% Street cleaning
82% Sidewalk maintenance
81% Overall built environment
76% Affordable quality housing
74% Public parking
69% Cost of living

Survey results also indicate a need for more public transportation options and local job creation- two areas that rated below the national benchmark.

Residents were asked how likely they would be to support a separate funding source to pay for new Police and Fire-Medical personnel, which would reallocate General Fund dollars towards other projects. Sixty-six percent of residents strongly/somewhat support this proposal.

Nearly three-quarters of the surveyed residents are confident in local government, and 89% are pleased with the quality of city services.

Since the 2012 NCS, residents noted significant improvements in traffic flow, crime and fire prevention, shopping opportunities/economic development, drinking water and overall national environment. Ratings fell in the number of residents who volunteered, visited a park or watched a local public meeting.

The 2015 NCS was conducted by Boulder, Colorado-based National Research Center from October-November 2015. The survey was sent to 1,400 randomly-selected Surprise households. The overall response rate was 26%, which is average for this type of survey. The margin of error is +/- 5%. Results are weighted as to not have one particular demographic (age, sex, race, etc…) skew results.

The City of Surprise would like to thank those residents who participated in the survey. The city’s next NCS is on target for 2017.

To see the complete results visit www.surpriseaz.gov/ncs.