Moving forward and giving back is what Mayor Dick Norton sees for the city as many new projects are in the works. Norton made it known that 2013 was a year of accomplishments as he presented his annual State of the City on Wednesday.

Moving forward and giving back is what Mayor Dick Norton sees for the city as many new projects are in the works.

Norton made it known that 2013 was a year of accomplishments as he presented his annual State of the City address to more than 200 business leaders and community members at Raintree Country Club on Wednesday.

"It is so energizing to see so many people here considering it is a bit above zero outside," Norton said.

Norton began by stressing that growth comes with growing pains, but the city is growing deliberately and responsibly. With growth comes revenue and businesses giving back to the community in the future.

He said revenue for the city was $28.5 million last year and a similar budget is planned for 2014. The city spent $21.6 million on operations and plans to spend slightly more than $27 million this year.

"Historically, we spend less than budgeted, and 2013 was no exception," Norton said.

"I fully anticipate spending less than budgeted in 2014 as well."

Last year was a large spending year for infrastructure projects, as $17 million was spent. The city was able to obtain more than $3.8 million from state and federal grants in 2013 for road construction, stormwater-control improvements and park additions. Spending this year is expected to be significantly less, as the city plans on spending $7.5 million on projects.

The highlight of road projects last year was the resurfacing of state Route 619, Arlington Road south, Greensburg Road and a portion of Mayfair and Heckman roads. The intersection of Steese and Greensburg roads was reconstructed to allow wider turns, and sidewalks were added to portions of Steese and Shriver roads.

"This segment of sidewalks was the last piece of the puzzle of connecting our schools to the Massillon Road corridor," Norton said.

Construction also occurred on Arlington Ridge East and under Interstate 77 on Arlington Road to add lighting and sidewalks. Construction also began on a new road called Global Gateway. This is an extension of Global Gateway from International Parkway to connect with Greensburg Road. Once the road is complete this spring, 140 acres will be available for development in lot sizes of five to 60 acres.

Several stormwater projects were completed in 2013 and an educational wetland was created in front of Green Middle School. Park improvements included new restrooms at Boettler Park and two new ball fields at East Liberty Park.

LOOKING AHEAD

This year will feature several projects throughout the city. The intersection of Lauby and Greensburg roads will receive a roundabout. Lighting and widening of the berm widths is planned on Lauby Road as a part of the project. Planning also is underway for Massillon Road. Improvements are planned for the area between I-77 and state Route 619. Design of the project continues, and construction won't begin until 2017. The city is asking residents for input on the project. Details of the project and a survey to share comments with the city engineer can be found at www.cityofgreen.org/massillon-road-north.

Design also is in the works for an area the city is calling "the box." It consists of the intersections of Massillon and Boettler roads, Massillon Road and Corporate Woods Circle, Corporate Woods Parkway and Boettler Road and the intersection in front of Giant Eagle.

"Because of the proximity of these intersections to each other and how they are interrelated in terms of traffic flow, they need to be designed together to ensure the best solution," Norton said.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Economic development was strong in 2013. Buehler's opened in the former Portage Lakes IGA, Giant Eagle became a Market District and Acme and two additional retail buildings plan to open this summer. In addition to the grocery stores, the first professional building at state Route 619 and Massillon Road and Green Village Nursing Home on Moore Road are being constructed.

Opening this past year was CVS and Infiniti of Akron. Construction continues on Residence Inn on Arlington Ridge, which will add 80 rooms and increase the number of hotel rooms available in the city to 804. Twenty-three rooms were added to the Hampton Inn and General RV and Shield Blice & Co each expanded.

Construction is pushing ahead on the former Belden Lodge at Southgate Park. The building will become Gervasi owner Ted Swaldo's newest restaurant, the Twisted Olive, and is anticipated to open in the fall.

Plans also are expected to move forward on the Brier Creek Development on Boettler Road. It will include a mix of cluster homes, senior apartments, independent and assisted living, a memory care center and several office buildings.

Norton recognized the Green Local School district for being one of the best in the state. Also, Akron-Canton Airport received praise for having such an economic impact on the region.

"I really can't say enough about our great airport and how blessed we are to have the visionary leadership in place," Norton said.

The city continues to contract with the Summit County Sheriff's Department for policing services. Sixteen full-time deputies, one direct-indictment officer and one full-time detective serve the city.

The Fire Division celebrated the retirement of longtime Chief Bob Calderone and the appointment of new Chief Jeff Funai. The department responded to 2,902 calls in 2013, slightly less than 2012.

CENTRAL PARK

The other big project for this year is the beginning of creating a central park. City leaders envision the park to be built near the Central Administration Building and near Green Memorial Stadium. Plans include an amphitheater, walking path, water features, splash pads, sensory garden, playground area and a covered-trellis seating area.

"This park is your park, so please take the time to review the proposed plan and share your thoughts and comments with the city," Norton said.

Green is focused strongly on giving back, as last year the city held its first citywide food drive to benefit Green Good Neighbors. Through the drive, the community donated 90 shopping carts of nonperishable food items. Norton recognized the volunteers of another program in Green called Blessing in a Backpack. The program provides backpacks of food each week to students in the district.

Finally, the mayor thanked the 125 city employees for their hard work this past year with the aggressive agenda.

"The vision for what can be accomplished here compels us to move forward," Norton said. "This is my vision, my home, and it might just seem impossible, until it is done."