Council agrees on top 10 priorities

Ashland City Council — Top 10 goals —

1. Develop a city-led comprehensive economic development strategy

— 2. Develop city-employee continuity strategy.

— 3. Develop a city-wide transportation strategy.

— 4. Complete a city-wide visioning plan.

— 5. Develop plan to establish fiscal stability, manage costs, prioritize — services, and insure key revenue streams.

— 6. Generate net increase in affordable/workforce housing by a — minimum of 200 units by 2010.

— 7. Increase effectiveness in conservation programs and identify specific targets in energy and resource consumption.

— 8. Implement program to provide workforce housing for city employees.

— 9. Develop a long-term plan for all city facilities and properties.

— 10. Develop a strategy for the railroad property.

Council has yet to reach agreement on the 11th goal:

— 11. Complete downtown planning process.

In a sign that divisions on the Ashland City Council don't color every political issue, the council unanimously agreed on its top 10 goals for the city last week. However, when a motion was made to include an eleventh goal the division reared its head once again.

Councilors Alice Hardesty, Cate Hartzell and Eric Navickas voted to add the development of a downtown plan as the 11th item on its top-10 list, a move that councilors Dave Chapman, Kate Jackson and Russ Silbiger voted against.

This presented Mayor John Morrison with a second opportunity to break a tie over the downtown plan. When the council decided not to fund a downtown plan in 2006, Morrison broke the tie by voting against it. This time, he voted to include it.

"I wasn't that much against it," he said. "That detail was not worth investing a great deal of additional time on it. We could have spent an additional hour on it."

Councilors, one way or another, were more unwavering in their positions than was Morrison.

"I don't mean to get sentimental," Hardesty said, evoking her late husband Jack Hardesty, who she replaced on the council. "But this was Jack's number one goal always. To me it is so important."

Hartzell said a downtown plan was important to restrict downtown residential development.

"One of the prominent buildings across the street from the library has been gutted for new condos," she said. " the time we get to it, it will be the downtown residential neighborhood."

But Jackson and Silbiger agreed that a downtown plan was not the highest priority for Ashland.

"There are a lot more areas of town that have greater concern economically," Silbiger said.

Despite the division over the downtown, the completion of the list of goals is a step forward from the previous year. In 2006, the council couldn't come to agreement on a list of goals and the city functioned without operating orders from its elected officials.

The council and mayor met on Saturday, July 13 for an all-day goal-setting session, at which many participants reported a productive and congenial working atmosphere.

"We achieved it without a lot of friction at all," Mayor John Morrison said. "Everybody stayed, and hung through the process. In the past, people have walked out."

Several of the councilors said they were happy with both the process and the results at a meeting last Wednesday. Only Councilor David Chapman wasn't happy with the first ten goals, saying, "I think I better just keep quiet. If you don't have anything positive to say just be quiet."

Morrison said keeping the list short &

in previous years the council has adopted as many as 50 goals &

helped them "see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 exy. 226 or .

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