Editor's note: We invited the mayors of Stanislaus County's smaller cities to share their thoughts on what 2013 will bring for their communities. This is the second in that series.
I would like to acquaint readers with a small city on the eastern side of Stanislaus County: Waterford. Waterford is a city of 8,500 residents on the way to several lakes and Yosemite National Park, hence our city motto, "Gateway to Recreation."
Waterford has undergone numerous changes in the last several years. On Halloween night we dedicated our renovated downtown with a ceremony and a trunk or treat that was attended by about 1,000 people, a large crowd for a city our size.
In January, Waterford will finish its new City Hall building, the first permanent one in Waterford's 43-year history. The new building is completely paid for and will give Waterford residents a building to call their own and that they can be proud of.
Waterford recently was awarded a state parks grant to develop a river trail along the Tuolumne River. The nearly two-mile trail for walkers, joggers and bicyclists will have a nonmotorized boat launch, fishing spots, and areas to stop and look out over the river. This will be an excellent outdoor opportunity for Waterford and should be completed by the summer of 2014.
The economy has been hard on Waterford as it has other cities. If it wasn't for the conservative budgeting of the last city manager, the current city manager, the City Council and the hard work of city employees, the cuts in Waterford would have been much worse. We continue to employ the same number of full-time employees we did when the recession hit and provide an excellent level of service while adding new park land and amenities.
Waterford is also known for its fine school system, with Waterford High School having one of the highest API scores in a five-county area. In 2012, the Waterford High varsity football team recorded their most wins ever, their first league title, first playoff win and a trip to sections. The Waterford High boys' soccer team also had a similar run a few years ago, not bad for a high school that is only 12 years old.
A recent Bee article on median family incomes for 2011 put Waterford sixth out of the nine cities in the county. Waterford was less than $1,000 a year behind fifth-place Modesto and less than $1,200 behind the median for the entire county of Stanislaus. Several new businesses opened in Waterford during 2011, providing many new jobs.
Waterford is home to some very dedicated volunteers such as the members of the Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, the River Park Citizens' Group, the Waterford Historical Society, the Waterford Lions Club, the Waterford High Booster Club, the Waterford Education Foundation, the Waterford Heritage Day Committee and the Waterford Improvement Team. In 2013 we are looking forward to another year of concerts in the park, Rock in the Park, and our first farmers market and Christmas parade.
Waterford is not perfect no city is but if you like living in a city where you know your neighbors, and see friends and community members at the grocery store, coffee shop or at the Friday night football game, remember Waterford and all of the good things going on in our city.
I appreciate the opportunity to write an op-ed piece for The Bee and feel it's important to let the community know about the good things happening in Waterford.
I would be happy to come back at a later date and address some of the issues of county and state significance, such as tax sharing, roads, agricultural land, regulations, lawsuit reform and taxes.
Goeken, a lifelong resident of Stanislaus County, has resided in Waterford since 1992 and has been mayor since 2008.