10,000 more housing units in 10-15 years, mayor says
Mayor Chad Givens gave the annual State of the City Address at last Thursday's Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, with a promising look at the future. Givens said that the city is one of the most stable cities financially in Kern County, if not the state, pointing to its vision of being a desirable destination for economic development.
"Shafter is an ambitious city that is not only prospering economically, but is becoming a player in the global economy." Givens also stated that the city is on its way to growing to four times its size in the next decade. "With the housing developments at Gossamer Grove, a 170-residence development at Tulare Avenue, and the other planned developments in the city, Shafter will have an additional 10,000 units in the next 10 to 15 years."
He said that the city embraces business, be it local, small businesses or large national retail operations. One example is the thriving Wonderful Industrial Park, which has attracted such companies as Ross Stores, Walmart, Amazon, Smuckers and Target.
Givens also commented that another major element of the success of the city is the emphasis on public safety. "The Shafter Police Department has made Shafter one of the safest cities in the state, using advanced technology and an important part of the department's strategy. Chief Kevin Zimmermann has implemented a proactive stance on crime, deterring the crime element from taking a stronghold in the community."
Givens said that the planned addition of a substation will even increase the effectiveness of the department's performance. "The Police Department will have an increased presence in the Gossamer Grove area, improving on its already effective response times on emergency calls."
Addressing the concerns some residents have had about the condition of the downtown area, Givens pointed out that the council has recently formed a Downtown Development Committee, giving direction to improving the area. "We are planning several events downtown, including the Community Resource Fair and Pop-Up event scheduled for May 5. We also are giving special attention to the small businesses downtown, helping them maintain and improve their operations through tax incentives and programs."
Givens also said that the development of Shafter's new parks will give the families of Shafter more opportunities to keep active and keep their focus inside the city of Shafter. "We have a 40-acre sports complex going up off of Lerdo Highway by the Shafter Recreation Department, as well as a new park in Northern Shafter off of Fresno Avenue. These will increase the options for Shafter's youth, with new basketball courts, ball fields and an activity center."
The youth of Shafter have a unique opportunity here, according to Givens. "We are the only city in the area that has its own city-run library, complete with a Learning Center, classrooms and educational programs to stimulate their minds and bodies."
Givens gave the audience a look at Shafter's future and vision, saying that the city and its residents "are expanding its dreams, and realizing its possibilities."