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Columbia Press

Columnists & Other Opinions

A Messages from the Mayor: Growth is great, but prompts city to set goals

By Henry Balensifer, Friday, April 13, 2018

Warrenton is a very exciting place to be.

We’ve seen unprecedented growth in the past 10 years. This has translated into a cornucopia of shopping and dining choices, and we’re building more housing than any other city in the county.

There’s something for just about everybody. There’s no denying — these changes have come with growing pains, but we are poised to meet those challenges. The primary question we’re asking is “What decisions can we make now to ensure Warrenton is a great place to live and raise a family in 10 years?”

Last meeting, the City Commission established 4 goals to begin answering that question.

Each has specific benchmarks to ensure the citizens can measure tangible results from these goals.

The goals are Community Building, Vision Plan Update, Downtown Improvements and Emergency Preparedness.

I’ll briefly cover what the benchmarks for these goals are:

Community Building: We want to create more opportunities for residents to interact. This includes encouraging city departments to sponsor events. We will also create a public email newsletter to better spread the word about events, projects and meetings. Finally, we wanted a citizen police academy to foster better understanding of police work in our city. I’m proud to say the WPD is already taking applications on the city website!

Vision Plan Update: We have prioritized starting a communitywide process for updating the 2001 Community Vision Plan. This will inform future changes to our city code as we lay the groundwork for a more livable, vibrant city in the decades to come. We also decided to apply for grant funding to start an economic roadmap plan. Unlike a vision plan, which is aimed at long-term future goals, an economic roadmap looks at what exists and creates an action plan for immediate work and near-term results.

Downtown Improvements: These have been talked about for decades. Using grants, as well as city and Urban Renewal Agency funds, we plan on updating our urban renewal plan to detail the most strategic use of funds and increase mobility in our downtown corridors. We also are going to deal with blighted and nuisance properties.

Emergency Preparedness: This is ongoing, but overall, we plan to do better at getting the word out and preparing citizens for emergencies. This isn’t just for “the big one,” but also smaller incidents. Preparedness is a mindset, and we recognize the city must take a more active role in shaping that. We are currently trying to put together a new Emergency Operations Plan to serve as a springboard for more preparedness, and we are putting up sirens at the Warrenton and Hammond fire stations.

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