About 45 city residents participated in two public workshops Thursday and Friday, where city staff gathered public input to help inform its biennial Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes plan.
Every two years, City Council and the City Manager’s Office set a new list of milestones that they would like to see the city accomplish. This year, the GIO process began with a presentation of the results of a citizen survey last month and will continue with a City Council retreat next month.
The two public workshops took place at the Stryker Center and outside of William and Mary’s Sadler Center. They were formatted as open houses, Interim City Manager Andrew Trivette said, with the goal of making them more accessible to city residents. He said that, while the city was developing its 2017-2018 GIO document, the public workshops were structured as longer presentations, which made them unappealing to busy residents.
“The problem with that is that it requires you to commit a two-hour period of time,” he said.
This year, the workshops were simplified into informal information-gathering sessions, where attendees went around to eight stations, where they could speak with members of different city departments and add suggestions for improvement by posting a sticky note to a tree-shaped diagram.
Each station was themed on one of the city’s eight main goals based on its current Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes document, which are: Character of the City, Economic Vitality, Human Resources, Health and Education, Recreation and Culture, Environmental Sustainability, Citizen Engagement/City Governance, Public Safety and Transportation.
After going to each station, attendees could participate in a 10-question survey where they were asked about ways to improve the city’s character and economic drivers, upcoming Capital Improvement Projects and how they would most prefer to receive information from the city.
City IT Director Mark Barnham said the results of the survey would be compiled and posted on the GIO page on the city’s website in the coming weeks.
City resident Gladys Victor attended the public workshop at the Stryker Center on Thursday evening, and said she was most interested in the Human Services, Health and Education station. Victor said her main suggestion to the city was to add a new skilled-nursing facility to aid the city’s large retiree population.
“One goal we need here is a rated skilled-nursing facility, we have one skilled-nursing facility in this town and it’s (rated) a level one” she said. “You want something better than that for your citizens, because you don’t have to be 65 years old, it can happen to anyone.”
City resident and Neighborhood Council of Williamsburg chairman Jim Joseph said he suggested increasing economic vitality, better citizen engagement and improving the character of the city.
“I came because I’m anxious to help improve the city,” Joseph said. “This is a good town, they’re already doing most of this stuff, we’re just here to give them some moral support to help them along.”
City Council members said the information-gathering sessions help them identify the priorities of Williamsburg residents before they develop their list of priorities for the next two years. Mayor Paul Freiling, who attended the public workshop at William and Mary, said the aim of the informal event is to get more people involved earlier in the goal-setting process.
“The more we can get people’s input, the more it can reflect the needs of the community,” Freiling said.
Council member Barbara Ramsey agreed, saying that the accessible nature of the two events makes it easier to achieve the goal of gaining citizen input on areas that need improvement in the city.
Those who were unable to attend either public workshop but would like to make their voices heard can participate in the 10-question survey at bit.ly/2MTa4HJ.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.