SEASIDE - From maintaining public buildings to strengthening ties with the school district, city councilors have corralled a range of goals.
Mayor Don Larson released a report last week summarizing a March 15 goals workshop among the seven councilors. A key to the process was attempting to establish a sense of priorities by responding to the question, "What are the most important things for the city of Seaside to accomplish in the next two years?"
The suggestions were listed, discussed, consolidated into 43 items and given a priority ranking with scores.
In the end, the highest-ranking goals in order of priority were to: maintain public buildings and bring them "up to snuff," finalize a memorandum of understanding with the Oregon Department of Transportation for proposed U.S. Highway 101 improvements (deciding whether to proceed with the project); establish a local economic development committee, proceed with construction or reconstruction of the public library; and work together with the school district.
The maintenance of public buildings refers primarily to south-facing walls of structures that have the most exposure to stormy weather, City Manager Mark Winstanley said Friday. As with many homes in the area, rot and other damage has stricken the city's police department, fire department and library.
"To have the funding to go in and re-do those walls is a difficult thing," Winstanley said.
Finding contractors also has been difficult, he added. They are often reluctant to bid on the relatively small repairs, often in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000, which must be done in the lucrative dry season. Also, what appears on the surface to be a minor job might underneath turn out to be damage in need of extensive work - not an easy cost change to reconcile in the public bidding process, Winstanley said.
The city's budgets are generally oriented toward operations rather than maintenance, he said. But councilors agreed to look at ways to tend to such work. The buildings include public restrooms in town.
Meanwhile, councilors also place the highway widening and improvement decisions as a high priority. A public input session about the Pacific Way to Dooley Bridge project, in development for years, is scheduled April 9 at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
The state has budgeted more than $30 million toward the project so far, but needs a memorandum of understanding with the cities of Seaside and Gearhart to proceed. Councilors critical of the latest designs continue to question its impacts on local businesses and residents.
Councilors hope to establish a local economic development committee to attract businesses and jobs to the area.
"As they talked about it, that idea picked up more and more momentum," Winstanley said. They did not discuss how it might be tied to other agencies, such as the Seaside Chamber of Commerce or the Clatsop County Economic Development Council.
The city officials also hope to continue efforts to either build a new library or modify the existing facility at 60 N. Roosevelt Drive, which is cramped for space. Library improvements have been in discussion for several years.
In light of state school budget woes, councilors said they want to work more closely with the Seaside School District, which includes Cannon Beach, Gearhart and rural Seaside. They want to ensure after-school activities are supported, for example - a consideration which can potentially reduce juvenile problems, Winstanley said.
"They recognize schools are an integral part of the community. Councilors are looking at it and saying 'what can we do to help strengthen the schools?"
All communities within the school district must work together, he added.
A second group of priority items at the goal session included reviewing the city charter; working on parks improvement programs, particularly in starting to get playground equipment for Broadway Park; improving Holladay Drive north of 12th Avenue; and completing annexations of properties at the south end of town to create less of a lot-by-lot "patchwork" of city services in that area.
Councilors will be discussing the various goals in coming months, Winstanley said.
As next steps, the councilors will try to identify steps needed to accomplish their goals, assign responsibility for achieving each step, and try to determine when key steps will be accomplished.
According to a report by Bill Barrons, the facilitator of the workshop, the city also must take another action. "The council needs to formally establish a process for reviewing progress on the action plans and goals."