Woodstock Mayor Michael Caldwell delivered his 2023 State of the City Address on Friday morning at the Woodstock Arts City Center Theater. The event was hosted by IN WDSTK. Over 170 IN WDSTK members and guests were in attendance for the annual breakfast and networking event.
In his speech, the mayor highlighted the City of Woodstock’s prior year accomplishments and outlined his priorities for the coming year. “Last year you welcomed me to this stage as a newly minted Mayor. The 31st Mayor of this great City, taking on this new responsibility during our 125th year of cityhood,” said Caldwell. “This month marks the dawn of a new quarter-century in our city’s story, and I mean for us to meet it head on. We will not pass on this day’s challenges to future Councils or future generations. We will continue to heed our calling and leave this city better for our children.”
Mayor Caldwell outlined his top three major policies for the upcoming year: To enhance the quality of life in Woodstock by focusing on parks expansions and establishing Woodstock as a regional trail hub; to build a more sustainable, secure economy in Woodstock by diversifying the commercial base with a concerted effort to recruit high-paying jobs and businesses into the core of the city; and, to concentrate city efforts on building generational wealth for citizens through the largest economic engine in human history, American home ownership.
“The challenges that we face are issues that nearly every other community in America would do anything to have. As cities and communities around the state and the nation struggle, watching their populations flee to greener pastures,” Caldwell noted, “Woodstock looks ahead to brighter days.” Mayor Caldwell cited crime rates, the unemployment rate, transportation projects, and relationships with governments and the private sector to demonstrate that the city’s metrics are improving and continuing toward success.
Regarding Woodstock City Council’s intention to complete Little River Park, Mayor Caldwell noted that $8 million of the upcoming SPLOST has been allocated to completing Phase 1. “We have finally laid the groundwork to make the “soon” on those “Little River Park Coming Soon” signs on Trickum Road actually mean “soon.” Caldwell said, “In a city as active as Woodstock, these offerings are genuine game changers.”
Mayor Caldwell shared progress made on the City Center project, a $100+ million project that will create more than 50,000 square feet of new office space, a 120-room boutique hotel, new conference center space, new restaurants, new retail, new park space, some critical street realignments, and a 647-space parking deck. “This project represents a true, fiscally conservative approach to public-private partnership with the public infrastructure - streets, park, parking deck - being built with public investment and the private portion of the project being entirely paid for with private dollars,” said Caldwell. According to the Mayor, Woodstock has executed a development agreement with the contractor for the infrastructure portions of the project and a groundbreaking on the Chambers Street and East Main Street realignments will take place this quarter.
Mayor Caldwell expressed his aim to establish the infrastructure needed for residents who own businesses outside of the city to relocate their headquarters in Woodstock. “For both new and existing Woodstock businesses alike, we are intent on making sure that our city, like our state, is number one for business,” Caldwell said as he revealed a link a new business recruitment form on the city’s website. The mayor stressed he wants to build an economy in Woodstock that can lead the way in restoring the sense of community that America needs.