Home Elected Officials Board Of Commissioners Planning Retreat Recap

Board Of Commissioners Planning Retreat Recap

Economic Development Coordinator Dexter Muller

Special to Lakeland Currents
by Wesley Wright

Wesley Wright – Lakeland Currents file photo

Lakeland’s future had made huge strides in the right direction these last 5 plus years but the roadmap has always been ambiguous in some respects as various elections have shown some divide in what direction residents would like Lakeland to take. Last Saturday’s meeting was intended to clarify our goals and formulate a vision.  Since 2018 I have made it part of my platform to provide Lakeland upscale design guidelines and plans and in early 2020 to enact a Lakeland 2040 Vision. Newly elected Commissioner Jim Atkinson made revamping the Comp Plan LDR’s a big part of his campaign. Both ideas are complementary and have in their basic form purposes to guide our town together with goals that reflect what citizens want. Others on the BOC expressed their support for a Visioning Retreat during previous meetings and last Saturday we sat down and made sincere and vigorous efforts to relay our thoughts, air our concerns and formulate a path forward.

City Manager Shane Horn

Prior to this retreat each BOC member was asked to provide the city manager their top 5 priorities. Before that a survey was circulated among the boards and citizens of Lakeland. Once the meeting commenced at 8am we went over the results of the survey. Slides were presented that show results for all questionaries and slides for BOC members results. City Manager Shane Horn mentioned that the survey should not be looked at as a mandate. Afterwards we looked at what our priorities were based on the emails sent prior to this meeting. Dexter Mueller led this part of the meeting as we looked at a giant flip pad with topics ranging from the Communication, to the Comp Plan and LDRs to Infrastructure. Next we were asked to place a red dot next to our topic, we each received five dots. Receiving 5 dots were Park facilities, Economic Development, and LDR/Comp Plan (including Hwy 70). Receiving 4 dots were Communication Plan and Infrastructure (Sewers, Roads, Canada Road) while Fire Service/Fire Station received 2 dots. From there we had candid discussions on each priority.

Notes from the BOC planning retreat

Under each priority we discussed Current Status, Obstacles, Action Steps, Time Frame and assigned Champions. Each BOC member was given the opportunity to champion each priority. Mayor Cunningham and Vice Mayor Dial will work with our city manager Shane Horn on the topic of Unity and Communication (priority #1). It was discussed that the lack of unity and constant division stemmed from miscommunication to citizens on social media. The numbers next to each priority have no correlation to importance but are just for identification. The champions for priority #2 is shared between Commissioner Atkinson, Commissioner Gonzales, and myself who will work with city planner Richard Donovan. This priority being of great importance encompasses many subjects and in many ways works in concert with most of the other priorities. Champions for priority #3 are Vice Mayor Dial and myself, but the Vice Mayor Dial will definitely be leading the charge on Park Facilities working with parks director Pat O’Mara. Infrastructure, roads, sewer and New Canada Road are Priority #4 and Commissioner Gonzales and I will be working with city engineer Emily Harrell. Priority #5 involves Economic Development and Mayor Cunningham and myself will champion. Each priority was supported by a majority of the BOC and under each topic we had constructive discussion that should pay dividends in the coming months as Lakeland moves forward. Two topics of many that was discussed was a fire station and growth. Although a potential location at Lakeland Town Square did not receive full support its agreed by a majority that it is something we need. I also raised the topic of population and growth and said the sweet spot for Lakeland may arrive between 20,000 and 30,000. I said I do not want to see our town grow to the size of neighboring municipalities. Mayor Cunningham chimed in on that topic as well and BOC members seemed to be in agreement that we desire to remain smaller than our counterparts. After the meeting we felt like we had a productive meeting and Lakeland had charted a course that most citizens could support.