May 31, 2006
Charlottesville city staffers are completing a 5-year strategic plan for the city and Wednesday night they asked for residents' input.
The city asked residents what they want Charlottesville to be like in five years, and through small groups and groups discussions, the city said they got the feedback they wanted.
"Our goal here tonight is to really listen, to hear what people's ideas are, to see what their future thoughts are for Charlottesville, and then try try to pull all that together," said Gary O'Connell, the city manager.
The city got a lot of ideas. Some 70 area residents showed up to discuss what they felt needed to be improved in Charlottesville.
In what was called a "cafe-style" meeting, people sat at tables based on topics they wanted to discuss. They ranged from education, to the environment, to the local economy. That brought out a wide range of people and a wide range of concerns.
"I came because of the housing situation and the cost of prices is going up," said Karen Haden just after she finished up at the "housing" discussion.
"We would just like a little more clarification about the role of neighborhood associations so we [can be] more representational," said Brynne Potter, the president of one of the city's neighborhood associations.
The notes from each table's discussions will be typed up and passed on to city council members. They'll then use the information to finish the city's strategic plan and that will help guide council members over the coming years. Dave Norris, who was recently elected top the city council, was one resident that took part in Wednesday's discussions.
"I'm gonna look very closely at the feedback we receive here tonight, and it's a great opportunity for community leaders and business leaders, and everyday citizens to give their input into what they would like to see this community become over the next five, ten, fifteen years," said Norris.
The City said that the "cafe-style" small group discussions really worked, and got people talking who might not usually talk, and for that reason, they say tonight was a success.
If residents missed tonight's meeting, but would still like to give input, there will be another similar meeting this fall.
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