Danville Express

Cover Story - March 9, 2007

State of the Town

Danville just keeps getting better and better, says mayor

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Danville is a unique community and it's getting even better. That was Mayor Mike Shimansky's message as he delivered the Danville State of the Town Address last week.

"Quality of life and maintaining the outstanding community that we have are of the utmost importance," said Shimansky as he addressed the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Crow Canyon Country Club last Thursday. "We selectively choose things to improve upon."

He pointed out that Danville is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its incorporation and has a lot to show for it. And it is increasing in efficiency.

The town currently has 117 fulltime employees, which is five fewer than it employed 15 years ago although the population has grown by 25 percent, Shimansky reported.

For 2006-07, Danville is projecting $28.3 million in revenues as well as expenses with the bulk of income coming from property taxes. He said 60 percent of the $3.2 million in sales tax comes from 25 businesses of which 14 are retail, four are restaurants, four are automotive and three are business services.

Property tax is the town's largest revenue source at $10.3 million. Countywide, the 1 percent property tax is allocated 48 percent to schools; 20 percent to special districts; 13 percent to the county; 11 percent to redevelopment agencies; and 8 percent to cities.

"Danville's share is a little less," said Shimansky. "We receive just over 7 percent of the total property tax paid in Danville. That means that $7 out of every $100 that you pay comes to the town, with the rest going to fund approximately 20 other governmental agencies or purposes."

The town uses a five-year Capital Improvement Program to plan for meeting capital needs.

"Capital projects are the most fun for the Town Council," Shimansky said, "because they tend to be the most visible."

There are 117 total projects in the works, and 42 of them are active. Shimansky touched on a few of the projects, including:

* The Clocktower Parking Lot expansion and renovation;

* The Diablo Road median project by the Danville Oak Tree;

* The Brookside Drive sidewalk;

* A second restroom at Osage park;

* Flashing beacon crosswalks at Vista Grande Elementary, San Ramon Valley High School and St. Isidore's;

* A town-wide street light re-painting project; and

* The pavement project on Diablo Road, Hartz Avenue and Prospect Avenue.

"Overall, the pavement in Danville is among the best in the Bay Area," he said.

The Front Street Parking Lot will provide 81 new parking spots for Hartz Avenue and East Prospect.

"It should be open next week, weather permitting," Shimansky noted.

He encouraged everyone to visit the construction site of the new Community Building at Oak Hill Park which he said, at 6,400 square feet, is very similar to the Community Center next to the library on Front Street.

Some other capital projects in progress are:

* A town-wide street light re-painting project;

* Sycamore Valley Park parking lot improvements to increase spaces from 105 to 191;

* Synthetic turf replacement at Diablo Vista Park;

* New Children's play areas at Diablo Vista and Sycamore Valley Parks;

* Town-wide trails expansion;

* New teen center at Diablo Vista Middle School;

* Village Theatre upgrades; and

* New aquatics center at San Ramon Valley High.

Shimansky also highlighted disaster preparedness efforts and said the town has hired former Police Chief Greg Gilbert as its first full time emergency services manager. Shimansky was among the first responders with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina.

"I saw firsthand what went wrong," he said. "We're going to have to be ready to go it alone for at least three days."

He suggested everyone visit the Police Department section of the town Web site at www.ci.danville.ca.us to learn more about emergency preparedness.

The Danville Police Department through a contract with the county Sheriff's Office has 31 sworn officers, three non-sworn Community Services Officers and four part-time Parking Enforcement Officers, Shimansky reported.

"We also have eight volunteer reserve officers who contributed 3,700 hours of staffing over the past year," he said.

Residential burglaries have decreased from 64 in 2005 to 46 in 2006; however, commercial burglaries have increased from 37 in 2005 to 44 in 2006, he said.

"Police response time for emergencies - 911 calls with lights and sirens on - averages three minutes," he added.

He also noted that Donna, the police canine acquired by the department last year, has been responsible for 51 arrests. "They were not all in Danville," Shimansky explained. "She works throughout the county."

Last year Danville police gave 4,186 traffic citations, an 8 percent increase over 2005; there were 329 traffic collisions, a 13 percent decrease; and 220 arrests for driving under the influence, a reduction of 60 arrests.

Shimansky is one of the first Danville residents to have AT&T's new Project Lightspeed television installed and he joked that this is not because he is mayor or because he worked for many years at AT&T before retiring. AT&T chose Danville and San Ramon to be the first places in California for the new U-verse technology.

He also noted that the Parks and Recreation Department distributes four activity guides each year with programs, classes and activities for cultural arts, youths, teens, adults and seniors, and in sports and fitness.

"This year our Activity Guides will include over 600 classes, 220,000 participant hours, over 100 trips and excursions, six theater productions and 130 performances, eight weeks of summer camps, and 300 teams participating in five sports leagues," he reported.

A special undertaking currently under way is determining how best to serve the senior population.

"A group of seniors came to us in October," Shimansky said. "We have established a steering committee that includes seniors, and hired a consultant to do a needs assessment to see what types of additional programs and services our seniors want. Our goal is to complete the survey by April so we can begin to address these needs in the upcoming 2007-08 budget cycle."

He said the town is also working with the school district to develop a valley-wide school bus program to alleviate traffic. The first part should be operating by September 2009 with a bus in the area of Green Valley Elementary and Los Cerros Middle School.

Shimansky opened his speech with a few words of wisdom, including "A day without sunshine is like night"; and "When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane."

He ended by urging everyone to talk to council members about their concerns. They take turns at the Farmers Market from 9-11 a.m. each Saturday morning in the parking lot on Railroad Avenue at Prospect. Shimansky also holds an informal coffee opened to everyone at 7:30 a.m. the first Friday of each month at Father Nature's on Prospect Avenue. And he encouraged everyone to attend Town Council meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Town Meeting Hall, 201 Front St.

Shimansky lauded the continuation of successful events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, including the LPGA Longs Drugs Challenge held at Blackhawk Country Club for the first time in September. He also noted that Danville became part of the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau last year.

"Your commitment to our local businesses and contribution to our community are greatly appreciated, and we look forward to another eventful year in Danville," he concluded.


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