Mayor: Staff has helped drive city’s success


City employees have helped propel Westfield to what it is today, although there will be some challenges ahead as a new slate of city council members and mayor take office in January 2024.

That was the message from Mayor Andy Cook, who delivered his final State of the City address June 15 at the IMMI Conference Center before a crowd of more than 100 people. Cook’s speech touched on the city’s population growth and how it has handled infrastructure and public safety needs over the years.

Cook lauded individuals who have helped make Westfield what it is today, noting that the quality of its employees and department leadership have played a large role in that effort. The city was recently recognized as the sixth-fastest growing city in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Cook said the city has effectively managed to deal with its population growth over the years.

“We’ve been able to maintain the quality at the same time,” Cook said.

Cook also said three elements have also been key factors in shaping Westfield: Its comprehensive land-use plan, a thoroughfare plan, in addition to an annual five-year financial sustainability plan. The land-use plan focuses on residential and commercial elements, while the thoroughfare plan was developed to avoid congestion, Cook said.

“The City of Westfield is in the best financial condition it’s ever been in,” Cook said.

Cook, who has led Westfield as mayor since 2008, announced earlier this year he would not be running for a fifth term in office. Westfield City Councilman Scott Willis, who defeated challengers Jake Gilbert and Kristen Willis in the May 2 primary election to secure the Republican nomination, is set to take office in January barring any challengers, who have until noon July 3 to file.

Cook’s State of the City address also allowed attendees to hear from Police Maj. Charles Hollowell, Fire Chief Rob Gaylor, in addition to Director of Public Works Johnathon Nail and city Chief of Staff Jeremy Lollar, about how they have managed to deal with growth in Westfield over the years. All four individuals said in part that city staff have managed to work collaboratively with one another while sharing resources.

Cook pointed to other projects under his tenure, which include development of the Grand Park Sports Campus, a 400-acre complex that serves as the training camp for the Indianapolis Colts that opened in 2014. It has 31 soccer fields, 26 baseball diamonds, two administration buildings, seven concession stands and a 378,000-square-foot multi-use event center.

William Knox, the founder and CEO of Legacy Sports Group, and Rachel Nelson, client services manager, focused on Grand Park’s success during a brief panel with Cook on stage. Knox, who previously served as director of Grand Park, said his firm has worked with other communities who are trying to develop a similar sports complex like Grand Park, but stressed that isn’t likely to happen.

“Grand Park won’t be replicated anytime soon,” Knox said.

Nelson said “it truly is a team effort” that has made Grand Park an overall success as the complex drew 3.5 million visitors last year. It hosts sporting events such as baseball, soccer, football and more, she added.

Other than Grand Park, Cook spearheaded the creation of Grand Junction Plaza, which opened in December 2021, and thanked citizens for supporting him during his leadership. He said while he is uncertain where the city will go as it moves forward, a new slate of city council members and a mayor will take office to lead the city.

Cook also warned that while there will be “new challenges,” ahead but expressed confidence that Westfield would be fine with newly elected leaders set to take office. He added that he hopes Westfield will be “as desirable and a destination in 2043 as it is today.”