The Ottumwa Courier

March 7, 2014

City goals and strategies outlined in meeting

By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — In order to sustain success in the future, the Ottumwa City Council has a lot of goals that need to be reached.

At a city goal setting meeting on Thursday night, goals that the council want to reach in the next two years were outlined and implementation practices were defined.

Several members of the public attended the meeting to ask questions about where resources are being allocated in the community. They also brought up concerns about what the council and city staff are doing to make sure Ottumwa is successful in the future.

Jeff Schott, director of the Institute of Public Affairs for the University of Iowa, was on hand to help facilitate the meeting. He specializes in helping communities identify their top priorities and comes up with implementation processes that the city can use to try and reach goals. He reminded everyone in attendance that the meeting was designed to foster discussion, not take action on any particular item.

“This is the one meeting where you can discuss the top priorities and goals … that you want to get accomplished,” Schott said.

He met with the council and city department heads and supervisors early in the week to come up with what accomplishments the city has experienced in the last two years, the priority goals they are continuing into the future and to review new goals that the council wants to strive to reach.

Some of the areas that the council and department heads identified that they want to continue to work on included economic development, housing, recreation, customer service, pride in the community, streets and sewers and airport development.

“With conversations we’ve had … these are the broad areas we want to focus in on,” Mayor Tom Lazio said.

Once the council got through goals that they are already committed to for the future, they went over new goals to possibly focus on. They gave suggestions like middle- and upper-income housing development, developing private or public partnerships for a sports complex and developing a plan for runway expansions at the Ottumwa Regional Airport.

After discussion about each suggestion, the council voted on which new goals they want to focus on the most in the next two years and what implementation processes need to be used.

The areas that garnered the most votes were referring to and understanding the city comprehensive plan, updating the zoning ordinance, customer service training, entryway signage, city incentives to promote housing development, adopting a plan for downtown and Church Street revitalization and incentives for establishing new businesses.

Some of the implementation practices that Schott identified for each of those goals included reviewing progress, doing updates internally without having to hire someone else, finding the right incentives and developing partnerships to help achieve success.

With all of the information that was discussed in the meeting, Schott will create a report that he will give to the council and department heads. It will include what goals to focus on and the best ways to reach those goals.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh