John Howard firmly believes in the motto “Live here. Work here. Play here.”
The Monroe mayor also believes if you can’t play here then there is a big piece of that motto missing.
It’s why improving the city’s multiple parks has always been and will continue to be a big priority for the mayor.
“That’s been at the top of the agenda since day one,” Howard said. “We finished Childers Park and Pilot and Mathews are close to be finished. We also have Town Green under construction and hope to have it finished this summer.”
There are also improvements to be made at Hammond Park although the timetable is not firmly set for it.
“It is very important to me that our parks can be used by people who live here,” the mayor said.
As the new year continues to progress, the mayor said street and drainage improvement are in the works.
“We will pave almost 10 percent of streets in 2023,” Howard told The Walton Tribune.
In addition, the city is in the process of renovating its wastewater treatment plant. Howard said he and city officials are looking at what is all needed for what he terms an “all-out expansion.”
“That’s why for the next six months we have a moratorium on building neighborhoods with more than five homes,” Howard said. “That is because of the current capacity of the wastewater treatment plant. As we expand the plant, we will be able to better grow both in our residential and commercial areas.”
Now in his fifth year as mayor, Howard said there are always things that need to be done.
“Our downtown area draws thousands of visitors,” he said. “Our downtown is at capacity. There is very little real estate available.”
Another project for city officials will be to get fiber optics to every home in Monroe. Howard said the supply chain is affecting everyone. Part of the reason for the slowing of residential growth is because municipalities can’t get transformers.
Howard proudly points to a very stable work force locally.
“We lose very few people,” he said. “Our police department is full and that is rare around the state and country. Chief (R.V.) Watts runs a tight ship but handles his duties with fairness and compassion. His men and women know he supports them and we support him.”
The vacancy rate for firefighters is also low in the city.
The multi-year truck route construction is also set to begin. Howard said it is something that has long been needed.
“This will have an immediate impact on downtown traffic,” Howard said.
Another needed project will be a new fire station, likely on the north end of Monroe.
“We are constantly going to focus on putting Monroe in a position that is attractive and serves the community,” the mayor said. “We don’t need to look like Disney but we need to focus on our cleanliness, our public service and, frankly, a strong community builds a strong family. If a family can work, live, play and worship in town, that keeps the stress level down among parents and strengthens the family unit and that is good for our entire city.”