At annual retreat, City Council assesses progress

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 21, 2007

FRANKLIN—A number of issues, goals and strategies were discussed during the Franklin City Council’s annual daylong retreat Friday.

The meeting was held at the Business Incubator building and was facilitated by Leadership Development faculty member A. Tyler St. Clair of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.

Council members agreed that although there is a lot of work to be done, the vision statement, which reflects, in part, by 2020 that Franklin &uot;is vibrant…with small town neighborhoods, quality educational opportunities, economic success and an affordable high quality of life,&uot; is still accurate of where they want the city to be in that time frame.

Mayor Jim Councill said, &uot;I think we are fulfilling some of our dreams,&uot; citing the success of the redevelopment of Langston Street as an example.

&uot;I don’t think we’ve done a lot downtown,&uot; said Councilman Charles Wrenn of Ward 2. &uot;That has suffered. They have the leadership, but the management has not been doing well.&uot;

The process has begun to hire a new manager for the Downtown Franklin Association.

Councilwoman of Ward 5, Mary Hilliard, said that although she couldn’t put her finger on what needed changing, something may need altering with the Downtown portion of the vision.

Led by St. Clair, council members noted some of the year’s achievements in each of the categories of Growth Management, Redevelopment, Downtown Franklin, Economic Development, the Historic District, Social Issues, Customer Friendly Public Service and Education.

Redeveloping Surburban Gardens for mixed-income housing and ownership, appointing a commission for historic preservation, being in the process of hiring a director for the Early Childhood Development Commission and joining the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance were just a few of the accomplishments noted by council members and City Manager Bucky Taylor.

St. Clair led the council through goals stated under each heading, to see if anything needed revisions, omissions or additions. Objectives that are already completed were also noted.

Among the list were completion of the storm drainage study that is under way; developing a comprehensive downtown development plan that includes broad input; developing strategies that will address crime prevention, and improve safety of neighborhoods; making the Web site more user-friendly and enabling online applications for customer needs; and the City Council and School Board aggressively pursuing collaborative strategies with the surrounding counties to improve educational opportunities.

The vision and goals will be brought back to the council for comments and additions. The plan should be complete in January and will be posted on the city’s Web site.