Town Council hashes out Top 3 priorities for year

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 2/6/19

ORANGE PARK – With the town having declared it had reached its previous years’ goals, Orange Park Town Council met last week to set a new vision for the coming year.

Town Manager Sarah …

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Town Council hashes out Top 3 priorities for year

Posted

ORANGE PARK – With the town having declared it had reached its previous years’ goals, Orange Park Town Council met last week to set a new vision for the coming year.

Town Manager Sarah Campbell began the Jan. 30 meeting by saying how its 2017-18 goals of equitable sharing of resources and revenues with Clay County, waterway and stormwater system maintenance and the Kingsley East Project were successful and that it is time to lay out a new vision.

“There’s two priorities that were clearly either directly or indirectly reflected that [we] ensure that waterway and stormwater work that we’ve done...not only continue but that we look at this more holistically,” said Town Attorney Sam Garrison, who led the meeting. “Broadly, in terms of public safety, [your priority] is the EMS transition and implementation, and to keep that up and running and handle everything that comes with that. There’s also questions of staffing [for all public safety departments].”

Each town council member shared their top three priorities for the year and, for the most part, council members agreed. Among the various ideas brought into the discussion, three priorities stood out – public safety, water management and strategic visioning.

Most of the council members mentioned economic development and strategic visioning either directly or indirectly. Throughout the night, it was clear that those who prioritize economic development believe that strategic visioning is necessary to determine how the town remains vibrant economically.

“I ran on this and it’s big deal to me: the redevelopment,” council member Alan Watt said. “We need to take advantage of everything that we can. I know we don’t have huge growth potential, but if you look at the mission statement, and if you look at the vision, what’s underneath all of that, what the underpinning is, is the financial stability and the economic positioning to where people can live here or work here or recreation here or whatever you want to call it because that’s really not happening right now.”

Watt said the only way the council can accomplish its vision statement is by figuring out a smart way to redevelop what the town can, grow where it can and increase its tax base while maintaining its small-town identity.

“We have to balance the ledger, if you will, so we don’t lose one because of the other,” Watt said.

After more discussion, the council agreed that the best solution moving forward would be to hold a long-term, community-based strategic visioning session. Council members also mulled over the idea of hiring a firm that would determine what the town would look like from 2020 to 2040. Because they met in a special workshop, town council did not make any official motions on the subject. Instead, the council will be presented a prioritized list from the Jan. 30 meeting in the form of a report to be discussed and possibly voted on at its Feb. 19 regular council meeting.

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