In addition to celebrating, the New Year is also a time for reflection. As has become tradition in recent years, Nathan Lamb, Editor of the Malden Observer, caught up with Mayor Gary Christenson to ask his thoughts on the year just past...
Q: 2014--- what kind of year was it for Malden?
A: I believe 2014 was a productive year for Malden. We have made great strides in moving forward with the redevelopment of the City Hall site, the relocation of the Police Station and the revitalization of our downtown.
In the area of public safety, crime continues to trend downward, we are nearing completion of the installation and upgrade of a school security system and fire prevention is being prioritized at all levels. In addition, Malden High School and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School once again appeared among the top best high schools in the U.S. News and World Report 2014 ranking.
Finally, I believe communication is at an all-time high with a 311 Call Center up and running and with Malden now on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram. We are also connecting with residents through Podcasts, YouTube, Flickr, MyMalden and monthly electronic newsletters.
Q: From your perspective, what were the biggest accomplishments and best memories from 2014?
A: One of our biggest accomplishments this past year was certainly the significant steps taken to move forward with the redevelopment of the City Hall site and relocation of the Police Station. The work and determination of my staff and the City Council has brought us steps closer to making this long time goal a reality.
I also think that our foresight to negotiate the first surrounding community agreement with Wynn Resorts was another achievement. That strategy will result in mitigation payments, jobs for our residents, and opportunities for our business community.
As far as memories of the past year, my best are the times spent with our youth. Whether it was at a school activity, play, concert, fundraiser, athletic event, visiting a classroom or at the Teen Center, I am more convinced than ever that our future is in good hands.
Q: What were the biggest challenges from the past year?
A: Time and resources always seem to be the biggest challenges. Although we are working seven days a week, it seems like we never have enough time to accomplish all that we want to get done. The other challenge is the constant struggle of trying to move forward while having to do more with less.
Q: You've just completed the third year of your first term as mayor. I know you had a lot of goals heading into this term-- can you tell the ones you're most proud of achieving and the ones that will be top priorities heading into 2015?
A: I am most proud of fulfilling our goal of utilizing social media and other technology to increase transparency, streamline our services and become more user-friendly. I believe that we are accessible and that residents have the opportunity to participate, stay informed and provide input.
On the development end, I am pleased with all the new businesses that have made Malden their home and with the progress that is being made to reconnect Pleasant Street and revitalize our downtown.
I am also proud of the opening of the Malden Teen Enrichment Center, the hard work of the newly established Problem Properties Unit and the growth of our youth summer employment program.
As we head into 2015, a priority will be to begin the construction and substantial completion of the Police Station.
Q: Looking ahead, any predictions for 2015?
A: We have accomplished much and I am hoping we can build on those successes. I predict that with the help and input of our residents we will continue to enhance all that Malden has to offer