Moving to Chandler about 30 years ago, I came to a small city with a population that was barely 30,000 strong. I moved here to raise a family and start a law firm. It was a quiet community — and loaded with potential. I soon became active with efforts in downtown, serving on the Downtown Chandler Redevelopment Task Force. That experience led me to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Sixteen years ago I was privileged to have been elected to the City Council. And for the last eight years I have served as mayor of Chandler.
It has been a remarkable experience to watch Chandler grow and to be a part of its development over time. Joining the Council in 1994, our population had grown to 116,000. But Chandler had no freeways, no mall, no city hall. There was nothing but farmland where Tumbleweed Park now sits and Chandler High was the city’s only public high school. If I needed a pair of dress shoes or a suit, I reluctantly had to shop in another community.
Much has changed though. This past year we have witnessed two crowning achievements for our city – our very own City Hall and the notable designation as one of just 10 all-America cities for 2010. The City Hall and its surrounding municipal complex have been a hit with residents who can now enjoy a destination point with full service amenities to do city business. The all-America city honor validates that we are a community of corroboration, passion and care.
Today, historic downtown Chandler is a true gem with a new energy that is truly something to experience, be it the unique restaurants, shops, galleries or office operations like Gangplank that continue to locate there.
I can also look back with fondness on many other new city amenities that came to fruition, including a number of great recreational areas that include Chuparosa Park, Paseo Vista Recreation Area, the Tumbleweed Recreation Center, completion of the Paseo Trail system and a new aquatic center and branch library. The Boys and Girls Club of Chandler was given a new home thanks to the overwhelming support of the residents of Chandler during a 2007 bond election. The building solidifies the community’s commitment to our youth, includes the nation’s largest Intel computer clubhouse and is built to LEED silver standards with an educational component to give kids a greater understanding of the environment. The Club also joins City Hall, the Fire Administration Building and the new Chandler CARE Center as recently completed “Green” buildings in Chandler — something I have been a strong advocate of through the years.
While the national recession hit Chandler hard, things may have been worse had we not worked diligently to diversify and solidify our employment base. Through the attraction of manufacturing, bio-medical, aerospace and finance companies, we were able to weather a powerful storm, and begin to emerge with a significant industrial base that includes an expanding Intel operation and new companies like E-Bay, International Rectifier and Safelite Autoglass. And Chandler is doing its part to work with local start-ups at the Innovations Incubator, growing jobs in partnership with the science and medical community. All of this work lays a rock-solid foundation for our future.
I take immense pride in today’s Chandler. Now at 254,000 residents, our community has grown to become the state’s fourth-largest city. It has developed well over time, and I have been blessed to have worked alongside some very dedicated and compassionate elected officials, planners and community activists along the way. I hope my passion for downtown, economic development and quality of life amenities has shown through with the progress that has been made here since the mid-1990s.
I leave office with great satisfaction that we moved in a positive direction, and that our path to achievement will continue. And I thank all of you for sharing the vision that has brought Chandler such great success.
Boyd Dunn is the outgoing mayor of Chandler. He will be succeeded by Jay Tibshraeny, effective Jan. 13