PAGE – Page Mayor Levi Tappan presented an inspiring State of the City address on Jan. 23 to a packed house at the Courtyard by Marriott, during which he laid out his Bold New Direction for Page and a detailed diagram of how that will happen.
The address began with breakfast, an opening prayer from Pastor Manny, and Danielle Stewart singing the national anthem, after which Mayor Tappan was welcomed to the podium to applause and cheers. In his opening remarks, Tappan thanked the Chamber of Commerce for arranging the event, and Courtyard by Marriott for hosting it. He also thanked his family and wife for their support, and the city council members and former Mayor Bill Diak for laying down a solid foundation on which the city can build its future.
“So, the bold new direction: everyone wants to know what it is,” said Mayor Tappan.
“Moving forward, we’ll take stock of our basic needs, streamline processes and building blocks of the future. That will take discipline, innovation and we’ll move forward with pride and purpose.
“The first thing we’re going to do is rebuild Page,” he fort. It’s important that we build this together.”
The mayor then challenged the residents of Page to get involved, be generous, be engaged and be committed.
Tappan told the crowd that as we move forward we’ll have to do things differently than they’ve been done in the past.
“The world we live in now is different than it was a decade ago, a year ago, a month ago; even last week,” he said.
The Mayor said that economic development is another of his and the city’s top priorities. The Mayor then introduced a new initiative to make that happen, which he called HEART, an acronym for Housing, Entrepreneurs, Airport, Redevelopment, and Tourism.
“Page is facing a housing crisis,” Tappan said. “I want to dispel a myth while we’re here. People are blaming vacation rentals on the shortage, but according to our study . . . VRBOs make up less than ten percent of our housing stock. The shortage comes from tremendous growth from the last three to five years.”
Mayor Tappan told those gathered that Page has added nearly 150 new homes during the last six years. Despite that Page still faces a housing shortage.
“And as you already know, that is having a tremendous negative affect on our workforce development on all sectors of the community,” Tappan said.
In 2018 the city council, with SRP, did a comprehensive housing study.
“Our next step is to develop our housing plan and open up new land for development.”
“Businesses are, without a doubt, the backbone of our community,” Tappan said. “They provide jobs, opportunity and resources for our residents. They’re very generous when it comes to giving back.”
The mayor said he and the city are committed to help our long-term businesses grow, as well as bringing tools and resources to first-time businesses and future entrepreneurs.”
He added that he and the city will work to streamline processes and procedures that, in the past, have hindered or slowed business and economic growth, and work to encourage entrepreneurs to set up shop in Page.
“We want to make the city of Page the most business-friendly city in Arizona,” he said.
“Our airport is an important asset with the capability to launch this city into the future,” Tappan said. “Connectivity is paramount to the success of the city. The airport has the potential to be a key economic driver, giving locals access to the world and the world access to Page.”
As the city moves forward, Tappan told the crowd he’d like to see the Page Municipal Airport become a hub for the Grand Circle.”
During his speech he thanked Contour Airlines for the tremendous job they’re doing as the city’s air carrier.
“A council priority for the past three years has been to initiate a streetscape enhancement program, to develop the framework for growth and development in our downtown,” Tappan said. “I cannot stress enough the need to create a positive image for our downtown/main street area.”
The mayor said he hopes to accomplish that goal by focusing the city’s efforts on business and community engagement to create an inviting atmosphere for Page’s residents and visitors.
Tappan said he wants Page to be as famous and amazing as the natural landscapes that surround it.
“Enhancing the physical landscape is part of the success of Page’s future,” he said. “We’re currently in the planning stages to redevelop our downtown atmosphere.”
“Page is known around the world for its beautiful outdoor scenery and iconic landscapes,” said Tappan. “The demand for Page as a tourism destination is skyrocketing and it’s time to get the community involved.”
The mayor said that moving forward tourism will continue to provide jobs, tax revenue and entrepreneurial opportunities. He said the city needs to take a more proactive approach to guiding tourism and its influence on the town.
“We can continue to stumble forward or we can embrace the tourism industry and take the lead,” he said. “Page has become the epicenter for our state, with Horseshoe Bend [visitation] numbers now rivaling those of the south rim [of the Grand Canyon.]”
More than 4.5 million tourists visited Page last year. Tourism in Page generates approximately $13 million annually in local taxes and revenue, including $2.5 million in hotel and bed taxes.
“Without this direct infusion of visitor cash into our community, we’d face tremendous difficulty to our ability to repair roads, construct projects, beautify parks and upgrade our infrastructure and provide for other services,” said Tappan.
Mayor Tappan said that community engagement is one of his core values.
“We cannot accomplish our goals alone,” he said. “We form them together and we achieve them together.”
As part of that initiative Mayor Tappan said he’ll start a group called IPage, that will address areas that can be improved, and lay out the ways and means to improve them. Part of that will be the creation of an IPage website where the residents of Page can come together online and have a dialogue and give input about their own priorities for Page.
Mayor Tappan said he wants the city to support more art and culture and other activities, and make Page a more livable city, adding that he and the city plan to work to attract more events, restaurants and entertainment.
“We want a community that we can live in,” said Tappan. “We want a city where we can say, `I’m proud to be a citizen. I’m proud of my neighborhood, I’m proud of our schools, and I’m proud of my city.’”
Mayor Tappan encouraged the residents of Page to join its advisory boards.
As part of his vision for a more livable Page Tappan said he plans on bringing back a community swimming pool.
The mayor said he’d like to see the city develop a brand for itself, which it currently doesn’t have, which he believes will encourage the city’s visitors to stay longer.
“We’re not doing as well as some of the other Grand Circle communities,” he said. “That lack of brand identity has fragmented business participation in working toward connecting downtown Page.
“We are city that must find its voice as a regional and global player,” Tappan said. “It’s about finding that voice, and making sure that Page is recognized in our region and in the state that inspired me to seek this office. And it is with a heart filled with gratitude and humility for my home that I stand before you today.”
Mayor Tappan said in 2019 the city will finish paving the Horseshoe Bend parking lot. It will also build Canyon Country Homes, a 26-unit townhome to be built on 4th Avenue, as well as Cliff Home, a 28-unit townhome on 13th Avenue, the Cummings CPA Building, a professional office building that will be located on the corner of 4th Avenue and Navajo Drive.
During his speech Mayor Tappan spotlighted several Page businesses for sponsoring many ventures, groups, organizations and events in Page, and he honored them with his Mayor’s Award. They were Yamamoto Industries, Boston’s Ace Hardware, and the Dam Bar Plaza.
“Page is at a crossroads now,” Tappan said. “We have many pivotal decisions to make this year. We can either accept our current situation and stay in survival mode, ore we can decide to dream bigger and invest bigger. Are we going to survive or thrive. We have to ask ourselves this question. Are we going to grow, are going to improve and what does it mean to build a better Page?”