HJ/EDMarch 27, 2006

Waverly's people, employees move it forward

By Liz Hellmann
Staff Writer

As the long arm of development reaches out from the Twin Cities to grasp the small town of Waverly, Mayor Charlie Bush is confident the character of the city will not be lost.

“I think it will always retain its small-town flavor. People accept you for who you are,” Bush said.

Nobody understands the draw of Waverly better than Bush, who moved there with his wife, Pam, in 1993.

“We chose to live here, we weren’t born here, and I think that says something,” Bush said.

Bush has been the mayor of Waverly for 10 years, but credits the town’s success to those around him.

“I’m just such a small piece,” Bush said.

He commends the city’s employees, parks commission, and planning and zoning commission on their superb job dealing with city issues.

“We have such good people, they take care of problems before they get to me,” Bush said.

Preparing for growth

As a result, Bush and the council have been busy working on planning for the future and strengthening the city’s infrastructure, which has endured several changes.

A major shake-up is taking place within the city hall, itself.

The city is working on a contract to sell the city hall building to the Waverly Fire Department, which is privately owned and is a separate entity from the city.

The city has purchased land in a new industrial park behind the bank building, on the south side of Highway 12.

Plans are also in the works for a city cemetery, since there isn’t one now.

Sewer projects and construction of a new water tower have been tackled in the last couple of years, and the city is poised to take on another facility issue. A new well will be the focus for the council during the next couple years.

Paying for growth

Of course, these projects come with a price tag; growth necessitated them, and now growth will also facilitate them.

“We are increasing taxes, but (individual) taxes aren’t going up because the base is expanding,” Bush said.

For example, the new water tower was built for new residents, and new resident taxes are paying for it.

Those new residents are settling in several different developments, the newest of which are Carrigan Meadows, Carrigan Estates, Summerfields, Woodland Shores, Spring Meadows, and Windgate at Carrigan Lake, for a total of 647 lots.

In the last five years, the number of houses has increased from about 400 to 700, and Waverly’s population is pushing 1,000.

Lakes are an asset

“This is sort of the last corridor of the cities to be developed. People want to come out here and live for the same reason we did – it’s beautiful,” Bush said.

Waverly’s two lakes add to that beauty.

“Our lakes are a tremendous value,” Mary Kay Johnson, city employee and member of the planning and zoning commission, said.

“You don’t see anything busy around the lake, it’s almost like you were 200 miles north on a lake,” Bush said.

Waverly’s parks are also a source of pride, and an ongoing project. Currently, the city is working on improving Legion Park for recreation.

More parking, tennis courts, and other amenities will make it more user-friendly, Johnson said.

Waverly’s flavor

All of these projects are in motion to prepare for the future, which is nothing new for area towns.

“What’s happening in small cities is tweaking and trying to get ahead of the ball,” Bush said.

But one project is more indicative of Waverly’s way of life than any other.

Welcome packets, spearheaded by council member Pam Henry-Neaton, are given to each new family in Waverly.

They contain helpful information about the town and its businesses.

People who receive the packets are always grateful and surprised by the friendliness of the community, Henry-Neaton said.

One new resident found out first-hand about community friendliness when she ordered sod for her lawn.

Unfortunately, her friends were not able to come and help her lay it, so the neighbors around her house, who saw it sitting there, came over and helped her.

“Everybody has time for everybody,” Henry-Neaton said.

An eye on the future

There is no doubt Waverly has grown, but what is in store for the future?

The financial situation looks bright for the city, as it is about to pay off a quarter million dollar loan it incurred after the summer flood of 2002.

Development is likely to wind down in the southern part of the city and head north. The development to the north will be mostly premier homes.

Bush feels that in the next 10 years, Waverly will become more intertwined with its neighbor to the east, Montrose, as developments keep pushing the cities closer together.


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