By Ashley Rader
The Elizabethton Community Visioning Committee will be hosting a community open house to gain further input from the public ranking the future goals for Elizabethton.
The open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2, in the cafeteria at Elizabethton High School. City residents are invited to attend the open house and cast their vote on what are the most important goals for the future of Elizabethton.
Director of Planning and Development Jon Hartman explained that the goals that will be presented during the open house were gathered from the public during a series of workshops, online surveys and input through Facebook. The committee hosted a series of six public meetings to gather input from city residents on what they believed Elizabethton’s greatest strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats were.
During the workshops, participants were first given worksheets where they listed what they thought was the city’s greatest strengths and weaknesses and then the opportunities and threats that were present for the city. Then, they were placed into groups to narrow down their individual findings into group opinions. From those group opinions, a list of long-term goals to be presented to the committee were developed.
Residents also had the opportunity to complete the survey online if they could not attend a meeting or to voice their opinions on the visioning committee’s Facebook page.
Hartman said the committee received most of their responses from the online survey where around 50 people submitted their opinions. The committee also gathered around 30 fans on their Facebook page. The public hearing meetings had a lower attendance rate than expected with an average of less than 10 citizens attending each session.
“The workshops were not as well attended as we had hoped for,” Hartman said. “We did get some good feedback from the meetings and from the online surveys. It was interesting feedback and some of the responses were different than we had expected.”
From the six public meetings and the online surveys, a total of 19 community vision goals were developed. Those goals were:
• Increase community and recreational opportunities for all.
• To improve streets and modes of transportation.
• Improve schools through curriculum, vocational programs and provide better educational opportunities.
• Stick to and follow through with established plans.
• Improve building frontage appearance throughout the city.
• Improve tourism through better festivals emphasizing historic and natural beauty.
• Support and encourage local business by local government and citizens.
• Have an educated and skilled workforce.
• Gain a more affordable standard of living.
• Have more communication in city government with management through innovation and open minds.
• Educate and promote citizen-government interaction.
• Promote diversity in community and city government.
• Consider better government cooperation/consolidating governments.
• Encourage up-to-date policies.
• Maintain and improve infrastructure.
• Redevelop old industrial lands and structures.
• Locate new land suitable for industrial, commercial and residential development.
• Reinstate bulk garbage pickup.
• Provide more shopping and parking opportunities for the elderly.
During the Open House, residents will have the opportunity to rank their top three goals from the presented list. The goals with the most votes will then be listed by the committee and presented to City Council for their approval.
Hartman encouraged all city residents to attend the open house. He stated the process would not take long for them to cast their vote for their top three goals. He noted that residents did not have to attend one of the previous workshops or complete an online survey to participate in the open house.