Grand Prairie—Mayor Ron Jensen listed Grand Prairie’s numerous accomplishments of the past year during the State of Grand Prairie event presented in the Ruthe Jackson Center on Thursday, March 3.
At the beginning of his remarks, Jensen honored former city councilman Jim Swafford, who passed away from COVID-19 in December 2020, and his wife, Judy, lost to the virus a month earlier.
“Jim was a close friend of mine for 40 years, probably 50. Played golf with him; he was my banker,” Jensen said. “We’ll miss him. He was a gentleman.”
One major source of pride for Grand Prairie is the burgeoning EpicCentral area west of State Highway 161. In 2014, the city asked voters to consider using a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the project, which includes Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark, The Summit adult recreation center, and the Grand Prairie Public Services Building, home to the city’s fire and police departments.
“A big part of that success was the vision of what EpicCentral could be,” Jensen said. “That vision drew IKEA.
“It’s one thing to have vision. I, the city manager, and council had a vision. Visions don’t always come to fruition. Visions sometimes fall flat. There was no guarantee. Whoever built the outlet mall in Hillsboro had that vision. You drive down there now 75 percent of it’s vacant. You’ve got to have developers who believe in your vision.”
Jensen lauded his fire and police departments for various accolades, including Grand Prairie being named the second-safest city in DFW and fourth safest in Texas by Wallethub.com.
“In 2021, the Grand Prairie Police Department achieved a 10-percent crime reduction, making it their lowest in more than a decade,” Jensen said. “[The Fire Department earned] the American Heart Association gold certificate. We have earned it for seven years running. It recognizes emergency medical service response times.”
In 2021, the city gave residents a half-cent sales tax reduction. For 2022, Jensen proposes the city raise its homestead exemption by 2.5 percent.
Jensen reiterated Grand Prairie will not join Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), but stated in April 2022, VIA Grand Prairie, the same ride-share service started in Arlington in January 2021, launches.
“It’s the same concept, same company,” Jensen said. “This low-cost transit system will pick up Grand Prairie residents and take them anywhere in Grand Prairie and to local colleges. VIA will run from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and prices will be $3-$4 a ride. Riders will be able to use VIA by an app on their phone or online.
“Once a ride is booked, VIA Grand Prairie will designate a pickup point within walking distance. Elderly and disabled riders will be picked up directly at their doorstep.”
Jensen then discussed improvement projects at Turner and Tyre Parks, and Mi Familia, formerly Mountain Creek Park. The projects are slated to begin in fall 2022 and be completed in 2023.
“Ultimately, it is our residents and visitors who make Grand Prairie the best and a highly-competitive city in the nation,” Jensen said. “It’s an honor to serve as your mayor.
“Becky and I continue to be told how much you appreciate what we’re doing. It’s us who appreciate what you all have allowed me to do. I truly am blessed to be your mayor. I have signed for re-election. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”
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