Mayor Jenn Daniels promoted the town’s City of the Future initiative in her 2020 state-of-the-town digital address unveiled last Thursday at Harkins Theatres in SanTan Village.
The 14-minute video takes viewers from when Gilbert was known as the Hay Capital of the World to 100 years later where it’s a thriving community building for its future.
The town, celebrating its centennial this year, is expected to reach build-out in 2030.
“Today, Gilbert is a connected community of innovators and technologists who are focused on making sure our community continues to thrive now and for our future,” Daniels said in the video.
“Building the city of the future is going to take all of us. Get involved, anticipate, create and help people for our children, for our community and for the future,” she said.
The video highlighted how the town used data to improve residents’ lives, citing as one example the construction of Fire Station No. 9 in south Gilbert.
For years, residents in south Gilbert had contended they were underserved when it came to town services.
The area grew in population and so did fire and police calls, so the town looked at the patterns emerging and identified gaps to pinpoint the location to put the station, which benefits residents, according to Melissa Cannon, a data content strategist.
The video included residents such as Joe Johnston and town employees talking about their vision for Gilbert.
Johnston, a restaurateur and the man behind the Agritopia community, said the town will never lose its agrarian roots but people will see “more vertical, more urban, more vibrant” than it is now in Gilbert.
Several town employees also appear in the video.
Genesis Hart, a compliance analyst, said she envisioned a town with more parks and places where people feel they can hang out with their neighbors and interact and get involved with one another.
Nine De Castro, a “lean innovator” – a town position aimed at improving the efficiency of town services – said her “hope for Gilbert’s future is to leverage technology to increase human interaction.”
Others in the video wanted to see a more robust bicycle plan, widespread Wi-Fi for connectivity while still keeping the small-town feel.
Town Manager Patrick Banger talked about the need to invest in infrastructure now in order to keep the town thriving in the future.
He reiterated a theme first brought up last year – all American cities go through a lifecycle of growth and eventual decline and for Gilbert to avoid this pitfall, it must address issues now.
“We are determined to write our own story in Gilbert different from those cities that have come before us,” he said. “And by investing proactively instead of reactively in smart technology and other systems, we can build roads, buildings and systems lasting well into the future.”
To view the 2020 Digital State of the Town: gilbertaz.gov/stateofthetown.