BRAWLEY — Brawley Mayor Donald Wharton gave the State of the City address Friday evening at the Brawley Municipal Airport in a hangar filled with Imperial Valley citizens and dignitaries.
Usually held in a morning breakfast format, Wharton said he wanted to highlight recent improvements at the airport including runway lighting and infrastructure upgrades. Wharton’s career has been the aviation industry and he is now in a leadership role at REACH Air Medical air ambulance service. He manages the company’s growth over the entire western United States.
“The state of the city is good,” said Wharton in his address. “We are experiencing steady growth. The council has set forth specific areas of focus for the city with a clear vision for retail growth, improved streets, maintaining service levels in an ever-challenging economic environment, infrastructure investment and improvement, and downtown revitalization. Staff and department leaders within the city have worked tirelessly to deliver in these respective areas.”
Wharton went on to give some current facts about Brawley. The population is 27,417. Median age is 30.5. Average household size is 3.5 people. Home ownership rate is 52%.
Wharton also pointed out city statistics with a $15 million general fund budget, a $37 million overall budget, 140 permanent employees, 1,316 business licenses, and 5,707 utility billing accounts.
“The number of active business licenses continues to grow,” said Wharton. “As a matter of fact, this number has grown by another 200 since I gave this address a couple of years ago.”
Completed capital projects include $1.2 million in bus stop shelters, $270,000 in senior center improvements, $315,000 in striping and sidewalk improvements, and $930,000 in improvements to Hinojosa Park.
“We have topped over $3 million in park upgrades and improvements over the past couple of years,” said Wharton. “Many millions of dollars have been invested in capital projects and infrastructure in the northwestern quadrant of the city.”
"The newly finished Pilot Commercial Fueling Center at the Eastern Gateway has been several years in the making,” continued Wharton. “Planned for the area are residential patio homes, village suites, parks, and more commercial development.”
Construction of a new Taco Bell and a new McDonald’s are giving Brawley a facelift according to Wharton. There is more happening at the Southern Gateway by Wal-Mart and a new company is repurposing the abandoned Burger King. Downtown is continually being improved with code enforcement, painting projects, and new ownership. Other coming changes include new construction on the Brawley Mobile Home Park and the former PureGro site.
According to Wharton, many roadway improvements are ongoing or slated for this year, including North Eighth Street, Southeast Brawley, Rio Vista, and Legion Road. A lighting project is slated for the Plaza Park area in downtown Brawley. Also, there are water plant upgrades to be completed.
Wharton shared the story of his father-in-law’s father who settled in Imperial Valley in 1905 to farm. He became successful and helped the Valley grow through his vision of making a life in Imperial Valley.
“I leave you with this,” said Wharton. “Brawley-ites are dreamers. We are inventors. We are entrepreneurs. We are builders. We are growers. We are producers. We are resilient and hardy. We are compassionate and competitive. But most of all, we are a community of tight-knit neighborhoods, a collection of great families that care about their fellow citizens and care about their city. We are mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, and brothers and sisters. These are the things I, along with my fellow council members, think of with every decision we make.”