Fort Smith officials comment on board retreat

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 83 views 

Fort Smith city leaders met this weekend at the resort at Mount Magazine, near Paris, for a two day retreat. The retreat, which took place on Friday and Saturday, was meant to allow city directors the time to discuss goals and plans for the city in coming years.

Directors, along with City Administrator Ray Gosack and Mayor Sandy Sanders, were asked to provide their "thoughts on the retreat and your takeaways from the event? Positives, negatives, ideas for how the city and the Board will move forward not just this year, but in years to come, and any new big picture ideas that were brought up during the trip."

Responses were received from Directors Mike Lorenz, Philip Merry and Kevin Settle. Director George Catsavis was unable to attend the weekend retreat.

• Director Mike Lorenz
"The discussion was great and the retreat was a great success in my opinion. We made great progress as a team and moved toward realizing a unified vision that will carry Fort Smith into the next decade after identifying a broad list of goals that we plan to narrow down into actionable items in the coming weeks/months. It definitely exceeded my expectations!"

• Director Philip Merry
"The retreat was very productive and I feel it was time very well spent by all participants. There are many ideas that came up that Mr. Gosack and his team will be studying and analyzing for our board, from a cost- to- implement and viability standpoint. Additionally, other ideas were tabled until the completion of the citizens comprehensive steering committee’s work and recommendations therewith are achieved.

"Some of the topics addressed range from the need to embrace and market our history and our heritage to emphasizing our workplace toward younger professional entrepreneur types. Completion of the riverfront, the channelling of our Arkansas River,  the completion of I-49 and subsequent infrastructure needs that will emerge, emphasis on citizen engagement, citizen service improvement, youth activities, implementation of special computer applications that will better facilitate communications with our citizens, and more….. highlighted our talks and planning. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS is so important and we continued to explore what we can do to assist from the governance side of the jobs recruitment/creation process.

"Goals/desired outcomes along with the various means by which we can achieve same were discussed and analyzed with an eye toward improving our board’s representation of the 86,000 citizens that we represent and serve.

"I know that shortly city hall will be publishing the entire list of topics covered at the retreat. Mr. Ron Holifield who led the proceedings did quite well in keeping the meeting in rhythm and with full participant engagement. His many years of city government/professional experience and familiarity with our city’s strengths and challenges are so helpful.

"I look forward to the times ahead when the implement phase in our work toward achieving our goals can begin. The goals and desired outcomes will be printed and will be in our midst ongoing and will be displayed at every meeting for any and all to see. To do so will enhance our steadfast commitment to achieve and the measurement of it all.

"It was a pleasure to network with the other board members, our City Manager, Assistant City Manager, City Clerk."

• Director Kevin Settle
"Over the 2 day retreat, we worked on many goals and priorities for the city and our future. The retreat allowed us to work together for the betterment of our city.

"We looked at how to make our city more attractive that would help keep existing jobs, while attracting new jobs.
"Some of the items discussed over the 2 day event:
• Look at the possibility of annexation of I-49 and 71south.
• Youth activities and the needs of our community, which might include a sports council as part of the park commission
• Riverfront development enhancements, which could include a redevelopment zoning around the old furniture district;
• Extending Spradling Avenue to Riverfront Drive;
• Look at how to put in a improvement district on Midland Avenue;
• How to improve the city overall appearance;
• Look at new technologies that will help with better communication with the our citizens; and
• Continue to focus efforts on Arkansas River 12-foot channel, Chaffee Crossing developments, comprehensive plan update, completion of I-49, and public safety.

"We have asked the administration to look over our list and give us ideas on cost and time to implement. The Board of Directors will come back and put a priority on the items and discussed how we go forward.

"Overall, the retreat was a success for the future of our city, which will have a great impact on us in the many years to come."