Ireton points to progress in State Of The City address

Ireton Podium

A lower crime rate in the city, popularity of free Wi-Fi downtown and the birth a bear cub at the Salisbury Zoo were among topics Mayor Jim Ireton was expected to discuss at the 2015 State of the City Address.

He was scheduled to deliver the annual speech Thursday night in Holloway Hall at Salisbury University, and highlight a 40 percent reduction in the city’s crime rate, from the first two months in 2014 to the same time this year.

Ireton has pointed to the police department’s Safe Streets Crime Prevention Newsletters, which contain the number of certain crimes last year, compared to this year. There are decreases in crimes including burglary forced entry, simple assault, theft from motor vehicles,  assault with a knife and theft.

The mayor’s speech was to include information about a cub born to the 5-year-old Andean bear Chaska at the Salisbury Zoo on Jan. 23, Station 2 fire department will open in the spring of 2016 and the Downtown Trolley has been successful. Since it began running in September, there have been 1,525 riders, Chris Demone, who handles public relations for the mayor’s office, said earlier this week.

Service weeks were to be explained. During those weeks, there is saturation of city services, meaning sewer lines are cleaned, trees trimmed and residents visited by Salisbury Police, who advise them what to look for if they suspect crime in the area.

Members of the fire department check, fix or replace smoke detectors. Last year, 88 new detectors were installed and 92 were repaired or received new batteries, Demone said.

There were three service weeks in 2014, with two in the Princeton Street area and one between the police department headquarters and Route 50 to the Priscilla Street area.

Concerning calls for service, the fire department received 3,095 last year. There were also 8,599 calls for emergency medical technicians.

The city’s code enforcement department responded to 8,710 property maintenance violations.

Downtown growth and new businesses were expected to be highlighted, with Ireton listing openings including The Brick Room and Headquarters Live, as well as events such as First Saturdays, set to begin in April.

Free wireless technology downtown has been popular, with 3,248 users last year searching for 742 gigabytes of information, Demone said.

Also downtown, the public works department is continuing work on the bio-retention project along the shoreline off Market Street.

Care has been taken to be sure street lights are working, with 419 repairs made last year.

The Main Street master plan design is 95 percent complete, and design work is due in April. Work is set to begin in October and be completed in phases, Demone said.

Salisbury’s city charter includes a mandate requiring the mayor to prepare an annual report outlining the financial condition of the city, as well as its accomplishments, Demone said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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