Stamford is the best. Just ask the mayor.
The city is “I believe the most successful city in the state,” Mayor David Martin said at the annual state-of-the-city address, April 26 at the Stamford Marriott. He used his speech to explain how he’s working to keep the good times going, while admitting that some “devilishly complicated” issues remain.
There are statistics to support the idea that Stamford is successful: the city’s latest unemployment rate figure stands at 4.3 percent, better than the state’s 4.7 percent; its median income has consistently risen since 2012; and last year it received AAA ratings from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.
Since 2011 the city has seen a 33 percent reduction in serious crimes – including homicides, rape, aggravated assaults, and the like – and has recorded no murders over roughly the past 18 months, Martin said, leading him to also declare Stamford “the safest city in the Northeast.”
Chief among the ‘complicated’ details still bedeviling the city are state cuts in municipal aid. While Stamford had budgeted for about $2 million less in state aid this year, it received a $4.3 million cut. Martin said the city must assume a further reduction in state funding moving forward, regardless of what Connecticut legislators may say.
Further complicating things, Martin said, was that the city withstood 16 snow events this year, costing some $500,000 in overtime.
“This year will be very tight for the City of Stamford,” he declared. “But I think we’ll push it over the goal line and into the black” by year’s end.
The mayor also heralded companies like Henkel and Sema4 relocating to Stamford, and expansion efforts underway by Charter Communications and Bank of America, as evidence of the city’s forward momentum. He also donned a hardhat to promote the arrival of Home Depot at 1925 W. Main St.
Martin further noted recent lease renewals by the likes of NBCUniversal, OdysseyRe and WWE as signs of the city’s economic health.
Construction will remain a fact of life, the mayor said, with a number of projects designed to alleviate traffic problems either underway or moving towards beginning.
The remark that brought the most surprise among the roughly 300 people in attendance was that the Atlantic Street underpass will be closed for eight months while the state replaces the Interstate 95 bridge. “It’s going to be bad,” he said in response to the gasps heard around the room, joking that he’d be looking for somewhere else to live while that work went on.
“We will try to mitigate the traffic problems,” Martin added, though he provided no details.
The city expects to re-pave 10-15 miles of local roads this year and is in the midst of replacing all of its parking meters with ones that can accept credit cards, he said.
Martin further said that he would like for the University of Connecticut to expand its Stamford dormitory presence – something he’s frequently brought up in the past, although UConn has made no commitment to doing so. “Establishing a strong academic base in Stamford is what will make us succeed in the future,” he said.
Standing ovations were given to Office of Operations Director Ernie Orgera – a sometimes controversial figure who is retiring on July 10 – and to Stamford Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jack Condlin, who is retiring on June 30. Martin presented Condlin with a key to the city, saying he’s long been “one of the institutions in Stamford.”
The event was hosted by the Stamford Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Delta Dental.