City Council discusses biennial goals at planning retreat

rarriaza@vagazette.com

City Council revised its current list of goals and began to outline milestones for the next two years at a Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes retreat Friday.

There, the board continued drafting a list of the city’s priorities and objectives for 2019 and 2020, otherwise known as its biennial Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes. Every two years, City Council and the City Manager’s Office set a new list of milestones they hope to accomplish.

The document is segmented into eight main sections: Character of the City, Economic Vitality, Human Resources, Health and Education, Recreation and Culture, Environmental Sustainability, Citizen Engagement/City Governance, Public Safety and Transportation.

The city’s GIO document for 2017 and 2018 was adopted two years ago and features 49 specific lnitiatives with 124 sub‐initiatives. Interim City Manager Andrew Trivette said he hopes to simplify that list in the city’s next list of goals by focusing more on actionable items and lowering the number of broad statements of intention or support for initiatives.

The meeting began with a presentation on the findings from two public workshops last month and an online survey, where members of the community were invited to suggest areas for improvement in each of the eight areas.

A total of 27 city residents participated in the 10-question survey across two public workshops at the Stryker Center and at the College of William and Mary’s Sadler Center, and another 74 took the survey online since it launched in September, according to city IT Director Mark Barnham.

He said most respondents supported planned capital improvement projects, including improvements to the Scotland Street public library, renovated and new police and fire facilities and increased downtown vibrancy implementation. Survey participants had the least support for the construction of a traffic roundabout at Richmond Road and Lafayette Street, according to Barnham.

The bulk of the meeting was dedicated to Council reviewing the current GIO document with Trivette and Economic Development Director Michelle Mixner DeWitt to cut out goals that they felt the city already completed and revise ongoing goals.

The review process looked at economic vitality, where council agreed that certain initiatives should continue on to the next GIO document. These included increased placemaking efforts and exploring ways to expand broadband internet service in the city.

One of the goals that received the most discussion was the possibility of establishing quarterly strategic planning meetings with City Council and representatives from Colonial Williamsburg and William and Mary.

“We may decide that we want to engage Colonial Williamsburg, and the vehicle to do that is to organize meetings with Colonial Williamsburg and William and Mary to so that we can better plan financially for the year of requests that might come,” Trivette said.

The board also discussed engaging companies to count and track the demographics of tourists visiting Williamsburg for market research purposes.

“If we know more about the types of tourists and visitors that come here, we can use it when we’re recruiting restaurants and businesses, and broader regionally, it informs how we market to new tourists,” DeWitt said.

Council expressed interest in exploring the possibility of establishing a bike sharing program in the city, establishing a redevelopment plan for Capital Landing Road and requesting that the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority establish a task force to look into ways to increase bus frequency in the city.

“Increasing frequency increases expenses, but we still need connectivity to offer effective transit,” said Vice-Mayor Douglas Pons.

The board also discussed creating goals that would further the city’s affordable housing efforts. Council supported including a goal in the next GIO document that would outline the formation of an affordable housing task force in the city, similar to an existing group in James City County.

“If they’re going to do something and we’re going to do something, we should have some coordination in what the criteria is so that we’re not all doing something different and trying to meet different needs,” said Mayor Paul Freiling.

City Council will continue to discuss its goals for 2019 and 2020 in future meetings, and is expected to adopt a final biennial Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes document at a meeting on Nov. 8.

Next meeting:

When: 4 p.m. Monday

Where: City Council Chambers, Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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