Preparing for growth, quality of life top list of city goals

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Changing buzzwords such as "economic development," "controlled growth" and "quality of life" into real goals was the focus of the Craig City Council and city department heads Thursday in the first goal-setting session in five years.

The group met to set a new mission statement and update its list of goals to reflect a more progressive and cohesive Council.

Members first looked at where they think the city is now, and all were pleased with the progress.

"It's coming together now better than it was three years ago," Councilor Don Jones said. "I think we're really on the upswing."

City staff members agreed, saying the structure of the current Council allowed staff to get more accomplished and be more effective.

"It has been a wonderful change. That's all I can say about this Council," Road and Bridge Department Supervisor Randy Call said.

Compliments flew from Council members to staff members and from staff members back to the Council resulting in the formation of what is thought to be an era for progress.

"We now have the potential of being the best Council we've ever been," City Water/Wastewater Department Supervisor Joe Theaman said.

The change was likened to a person who had been diagnosed with cancer, was treated and is now in remission. It was also called an emergence from the "dark ages."

Most councilors believe the population of Craig will grow and the mission of the city should be to prepare for the growth and be able to accommodate it.

"Our job is to prepare for growth, not stifle it," Councilor Bill Johnston said.

"Planned growth" is a key word for the mission statement and includes planning for the urban development boundary a state-mandated 3-mile buffer zone outside the city limits surrounding the city.

City staff was directed to research the authority of the city within the urban development boundary.

Councilors also voiced their support for encouraging economic development, though Councilor Don Jones didn't believe the Council should be active in bringing new businesses to town. That task, he said, should be left to committees formed to work on economic development.

The third key word in the city mission statement will be preserving quality of life, which members defined as preserving the western heritage of the area and its open space. Ferree was directed to provide a plan for open space acquisition and preservation.

"I'm all for doing this, but not in a way that drains city finances," Councilor Kent Nielson said.

Government

Council members decided that one city goal will be to build partnerships with other government entities, especially the Moffat County Board of Commissioners. This partnership, councilors hope, could help the city in terms of development and code enforcement within the urban development boundary. Councilors believe they need to be on the same page as the commissioners in terms of county development regulations and the impact to drainage issues.

Another goal is for councilors to take an active role in issues that affect the Yampa Valley. This will include water issues that impact the Yampa River Basin, land management and forestry issues and any legislation that could impact the area.

Services

The Council agreed to develop a philosophy about which services are appropriate for the city of Craig to provide for its residents. To achieve this goal, a community survey will be done so councilors and city staff members know the concerns of residents. Unlike the survey of 1996, which focused on community development, this survey would focus on city services.

People

It was agreed that city employees would be made a priority and one city goal would be to give them good working conditions and develop responsive employees. Craig residents would also get special treatment because one council goal is to be responsive to a majority of residents.

Infrastructure

The city currently has the funding to develop a water and wastewater system master plan and the Craig Parks and Recreation Department is seeking funding to also create a master plan. Councilors agreed one goal should be to continue updating and implementing those plans. The goal will also reflect the council's desire to maintain the infrastructure necessary for growth.

Money

Councilor Dave DeRose suggested the Council make maintaining fiscal responsibility a goal. Though he agreed that was the reason council members were elected, he thought it should be outlined in the city goals.

Beautification

Evaluating the Civic Improvement Plan and determining what projects the Council can fund was listed as a Council goal. Several studies have listed cleanliness and community beautification as necessary for economic development. Though the Civic Improvement Plan is a multi-million dollar plan, Council members said they could look into funding projects.

One objective hit on at the workshop was a complete update of city codes and the city charter. Many believe the charter does not reflect current issues or standards.

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