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Mayor: ‘Booming’ Tyler investing in infrastructure, downtown, first responders | Local News

The city of Tyler is in a “state of transformation” that Mayor Don Warren says he is proud to be part of — and he’s excited about what’s next.

“The Tyler of tomorrow is going to enhance what you see today,” Warren said Thursday during the State of the City address at Green Acres Baptist Church.

Warren spoke about changes that have happened and planned for the city as well as its growth, Tyler’s first responders and more.

As seen in the redistricting process completed this year, Tyler has grown, Warren said, with a population of about 106,000.

The city is “booming,” Warren said.

“Tyler’s a fun place to live. It’s got a great quality of life,” he said. “Our economy is strong. We have lean government. We have low property taxes, and that causes a lot of people to move here.”

Between December 2020 and December 2021, 8,800 jobs were added in the city, which is a 8.3% increase, Warren said. Unemployment in the city is at 3.5%.

“The city of Tyler is first in job growth in the top 10 metro areas,” he said.

With population growth also comes more infrastructure growth. Warren said $5 million has been spent on streets in the past five years; $2 million on replacement of water lines in a year; $9.6 million on water plants in five years; and $5 million on wastewater plants in five years.

The city also is halfway through a 10-year agreement to rehabilitate its sewer system with $90.8 million invested so far.

“We’re making huge investments into our infrastructure,” Warren said.

Tyler also has taken steps to improve traffic conditions.

Work the city has done retiming traffic signals has equated to a 30% reduction in wait times when driving from Grande to Cumberland Village, Warren said. Signals from North Grande to the Azalea District and also on Fifth Street and Front Street are in the process of being retimed, he added.

With this work, “Hopefully you’ll see some improvements in the traffic,” Warren said.

Several big developments are in the works, such as the Rose Complex Conference Center, the revitalization of downtown and a new medical school.

The Rose Center is a $28 million, 32,000-square-foot building that is a real “gem,” Warren said.

With the new facility, Tyler will be able to host conferences and conventions for groups all over the country, he said.

Things have “gone very well, so we’re excited about opening,” Warren said. The goal is to open the facility by October, but it could be a little after, he added.

Warren said he is looking forward to downtown revitalization efforts. The city signed a contract with Toole Design to come up with a plan that includes input from the community.

The plan will include things such as narrowing the streets to create wider sidewalks and more room for outdoor restaurant seating, more trees, connectivity, a safer atmosphere and more, Warren said.

“What’s going to take place is huge,” he said.

The construction of a new medical school also is set to start and will take about three years to complete, he said.

The first class of 40 medical students will receive full scholarships, Warren said, and the hope is the students will stay and practice medicine in the area or nearby places.

Continued improvements to parks also is in the works.

Pollard Park is set to receive updates to the tennis court and restrooms and get a new pavilion, Warren said. Noble E. Young Park is in the process of being renovated with work set for completion by Aug. 1.

In 2014, Bergfeld Park was updated, and since then, about $10 million has been invested into Tyler parks, Warren said.

Throughout everything, the city continues to support its first responders.

Warren said he believes the police and firefighters do what they do because it “is a calling” and they deserve to be supported. In this year’s budget, $7.64 million was invested into public safety.

First responders see a lot while on the job that can have an impact on their mental health, so Warren said the city works to support them in this area.

“We stand behind our police and fire anyway we can, but we really want to be behind them regarding mental health,” he said.

One challenge the city has faced is police academy enrollment, Warren said.

While the number of women and Hispanic officers has increased, but Black officers make up 8% of the force, Warren said. To adequately represent the community, that number needs to be around 23%, he added.

Other things Warren spoke about at the State of the City include:

  • The decrease in the homeless population from 325 in 2020 to 262 this year and efforts put in place to help those in need.
  • Tyler’s assistance to sister city Jelenia Góra in Poland. In total, Tyler was able to donate more than $30,000 to help the city provide assistance to Ukrainian refugees.
  • The city expects to receive in total $20.2 million in federal relief funding.

Also during the Thursday event, members of the 35th Leadership Tyler class graduated.

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