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Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus highlights city achievements in 2024 ‘State of the City’

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On Thursday night, Feb. 29, 2024, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus delivered her 2024 State of the City address at the Muckleshoot Tribe Convention Center, sharing key developments and initiatives aimed at enhancing the city’s well-being and growth.

The City said that the turn out for the address was the largest ever for the annual address.

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Backus’ speech highlighted the city’s focus on financial literacy education for students, recognition of Green River College’s excellence, infrastructure improvements funded by grants, public safety issues and more.

“I love Auburn!” Backus – who has lived here since 1968, when the population was under 20,000 – said. “That may sound a little corny to you to have so much love for a city, but it’s true. It’s why I’ve lived here most of my life.”

“Since 2020 alone, we’ve grown by more than 2,500 residents, and if models hold, we’re projected to be at 100,000 by 2029,” she added. “Can you believe that ‘little old Auburn’ will be over 100,000 by the end of this decade?”

Video

Below is full video of the Mayor’s address:

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Public Safety

Public safety and crime prevention were key focal points in the speech.

“I think if you asked the person seated next to you, they’d tell you, honestly, that the world just doesn’t seem OK right now,” she said. “Certain types of crimes are up, people don’t feel safe walking home at night, and increasingly, we’ve become more scared of each other. This is not a unique problem to the Puget Sound or to Auburn – despite what you might read on social media.”

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One of Backus’ significant highlights was the implementation of the Officer Wellness Program within the Auburn Police Department. Led by Police Wellness Program Designer Angel Ogando, this innovative program prioritizes the physical and mental well-being of police officers and their families. By addressing the unique challenges and stressors faced by law enforcement personnel, the program aims to improve overall wellness and reduce critical incidents among officers.

The Mayor acknowledged the rise in certain types of crimes within the region, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to address these challenges. Recent incidents, such as the arrest of juveniles involved in armed robberies, underscored the importance of swift and effective law enforcement responses to maintain community safety.

In response to community feedback and concerns, the Mayor expressed a commitment to working closely with county and state lawmakers to advocate for legislative changes that align with the needs of local communities. By advocating for reforms in drug legislation and police pursuit policies at the state level, the city aims to equip law enforcement with the necessary tools to address crime effectively and ensure the safety of residents.

Downtown Infrastructure

Over the next few years, Backus said that the City will replace downtown infrastructure, like:

  • Removing overhead and underground utilities in the alley between East Main Street and 1st Street NE, promoting aesthetic improvement and safety.
  • Revitalizing Auburn Ave from East Main Street to the alley north of Main Street, including a new sewer line and upgraded street lighting.
  • Upgrading the East Main Street and Auburn Ave intersection with a new traffic signal, ADA-compliant ramps, and utility replacements.
  • Reconstructing sidewalks on East Main Street from Auburn Ave to B Street Plaza, improving pedestrian accessibility and infrastructure.
  • Transforming B Street Plaza with a new sewer line, enhanced landscaping, and improved lighting for a vibrant community space.
  • Additionally, decorative street lighting will be added on Main Street. Design work is beginning – with funding secured. Expect construction to begin by year-end, continuing into 2025.
  • She also mentioned that the Auburn Avenue Theater will be demolished later this spring or summer.

“For those of you like me who remember watching movies every Saturday morning at the Auburn Ave, it will be sad to see it come down, but we’ll have the memories of some great times together,” she said. “Anyone else remember Mr. Mullendore coming out to the stage to introduce movies AND remind us of the proper behavior while watching? And there will be the opportunity to make new memories at the new facility!”

She also promised that theater and performing arts will return to downtown soon.

Her address also touched on the city’s initiatives to combat homelessness, including housing programs and outreach efforts.

The Mayor also highlighted the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene, showcasing the success of the Postmark Center for the Arts and various community events.

Her address concluded with a message of gratitude for the community’s support and a commitment to continued progress and collaboration in Auburn.

“Thank you for your time, your dedication to Auburn, and your commitment to building a brighter future for us all,” Backus said at the end. “May the coming year bring us closer together and open new opportunities for growth and success. May you be proud of the work you do, the person you are, and the difference you make.”

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