The new year brought sweeping changes to the city of Fairway and its residents: a new City Hall, two new council members, and its first female mayor.
“My whole career has been in the world of men, and I have always relied on my expertise, my experience, my feelings, and the way I was raised,” new Fairway Mayor Melanie Hepperly said at Fairway’s Jan. 8 city council meeting. “I just do the job, so I don’t feel any different being a woman. But I’m proud of it.”
Around 70 Fairway residents came out to show support for newly elected and departing council members at the meeting, where a special reception was held after the swearing in of new members. Community members enjoyed pizza, beverages and cake while mingling with city officials and neighbors.
“I am so proud and happy,” Fairway resident Dana Moriarty said of Hepperly’s victory. “Woman power!”
Moriarty’s husband, Tom, added, “We are very happy for her. She really put the city together financially.”
Hepperly, who was elected to the Fairway City Council in 2009, previously served as City Council President for seven years and Finance Committee Chair for eight years. Hepperly worked for 31 years as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Sosland Publishing Company before retiring in 2016.
Hepperly replaces Mayor Jerry Wiley, who served for almost nine years as mayor.
“It’s a new beginning,” Wiley said of his departure. “I’m happy that I am able to leave at a time when the trajectory of the city is continuing to serve the community. We’ve set an agenda and we have been able to accomplish a lot through council and through staff we have here, and so I had the easy job.”
Hepperly feels fully prepared to take the baton.
“The mayor and I have worked hand-in-hand the past eight years to bring the city where it is,” she said of her work with Wiley, “so I feel that I am just going to continue that same fiscal responsibility that allowed us to get where we are now.”
New council members Kelly-Ann Buszek and Dan Bailey along with reelected council members David Watkins and Tanya Keys also were sworn into office at the meeting. Dan Bailey replaces outgoing Ward 2 Councilman Michael Staley.
Additionally, the meeting offered many residents the opportunity to tour the new City Hall at 5240 Belinder Road for the first time. The 8,000-square-foot, two-story facility, which opened last month, sits just south of the Fairway Police Station.
The city’s lease at the Fairway Office Park, which they rented for eight years, expired Dec. 31.
Council members approved the purchase of the former retail Churchill store in March 2017. The city bought the building for around $920,000 and renovated it for $1.4 million, both of which were financed with $2.3 million in general-obligation temporary notes approved by the city last year.
The space, designed by SFS Architecture and constructed by Phillco Construction, houses City Hall, a multipurpose room for residents, and office space for staff, said City Administrator Nathan Nogelmeier.
Residents like Vivien Jennings, owner of Rainy Day Books in Fairway, said they welcome the new community space. Jennings said she looks forward to hosting business events in the new facility, an option that wasn’t available in the old building.
“I think that it gives us more of a community space than we had before,” she said. “This will allow us to bring more people into Fairway by using the event space they created.”
The Churchill building previously housed a luxury furniture and jewelry store.