Improvement authority lacks direction, funds |

Improvement authority lacks direction, funds

City officials, council ponder future of Craig Improvement Authority

Christina M. Currie

— The Craig Improvement Authority is hard-pressed to continue its mission of beautifying Craig. It lacks funds, direction and volunteers.

The Craig Improvement Authority (CIA) was created by the Craig City Council as an advisory board. In 1993, the group worked on a civic improvement plan which outlined projects, the costs and the time frame to which they were to be completed.

The downtown improvement project was one step the CIA took to beautify Craig. The project cost more than $400,000 and drained future Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grants for future street improvements.

There aren’t many grants available for civic beautification projects and city officials say the price tag is too great for the city budget to carry.

“It’s a multi-million dollar project,” City Manager Jim Ferree said. “There’s no money in the budget for a project that size. Without significant private investments, I don’t see how the city has the resources to do it.”

Now that the downtown improvement project is complete, the CIA has been wandering aimlessly, looking for a mission and the funds to complete that mission. Many of the projects outlined in the civic improvement plan would take more money than is available currently.

In January, CIA members held a contest for the design of three entrance signs for the city. A winner was chosen, but the project stopped there because of lack of funds.

“It’s difficult for the CIA to accomplish much when it takes financial resources to do what needs to be done,” Ferree said.

In an effort to at least get entrance signs put up, Ferree will put the cost into the 2000 city budget and see if the expenditure is approved by council.

Ferree is currently working to get prices on the signs.

Entrance signs may be erected through the work of the city, but it does not solve the question of what to do with an advisory board without direction, and without members.

Current membership for the improvement authority is listed at 10 members. Of those, less than a handful are active, but no one is ready to see the group disband yet.

Long-time member Twila White said the group’s future is in the hands of the City Council, but she would like to see it set aside money to complete the civic improvement plan.

“It’s a very long-range plan,” she said.

White also said the group needs clear direction from the council as to the group’s mission. That in itself would help increase membership, she said.

“It got to the point that it was so much trouble figuring out what the City Council wanted us to do and what we could do, we lost a lot of people,” White said.

Councilor Don Jones thinks the CIA needs to be revitalized, reorganized and re-energized.

“I think they just need time to regroup and think about what their next project ought to be,” he said.

Jones said he would be willing to look at the Civic Improvement Plan and see what projects do not require extreme funding that the CIA can work on.

“It really is a beneficial project for the whole city,” he said.