Streets, parks come out as top goals

By Jessica Weston

News Review Correspondent

Implementing and funding the Pavement Management System and improving parks and sports facilities tied as the most popular goals for the city of Ridgecrest, at least according to 25 attendees in a straw poll as part of the strategic planning process at last Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting.

The meeting at the Kerr McGee Center was the latest step in a goal-setting process started some time ago. Attendees grouped at tables for individual discussion of the list of “Town Hall Meeting Goals” derived from a list presented at a previous council meeting. This list of goals was combined with those resulting from small-group brainstorming at the Town Hall meeting.

After duplication elimination and some semantic refinements, the goals were written on sheets of paper stretched across the wall of the center. Each participant was given five green dots to vote with, up to twice per goal.

Once the results were tallied, Mayor Dan Clark announced the Top Ten as follows:

1. Implement and fund pavement management and mprove the quality of parks and sports facilities (tied for first place)

3. Promote an economic development alliance

4. Become an alternate energy center

5. Create a signature event

6. Meet the needs of youth and create sufficient staff levels (tied for sixth place)

8. Enforce codes

9. Create a vibrant downtown

10. Add purple piping for gray water

Some other ideas tossed around included accommodating recreational BMX bikes, skateboards, motocross and dirt bikes; promoting senior living in Ridgecrest; partnering with Inyokern Airport to bring in airport and economic development; promoting diversity in the performing arts and working toward a drug rehabilitation center.

Not yet folded into the above list are the results of the ongoing 2014 Strategy Survey by Vice Mayor Chip Holloway and social media consultant Justin O’Neill. (See article this issue.)

Ultimately, the results of the town hall meeting will be combined with the survey results and taken back to council. “When we get the Top Ten goals, staff will review and take those back to council,” City Manager Dennis Speer told the News Review.

Goals will be evaluated based on timing and budget constraints and council will pare the list down to the top three or five at most, he said.

The Town Hall meeting and goal-setting process met with some public criticism at the city council meeting the next day.

“I will admonish you that the audience was biased… How many seniors were there?” Dave Matthews said during public comment.

Matthews also described the online survey as “flawed,” but suggested that it be incorporated into the final goal list. “You need to weight these [town hall meeting] results” against survey results online, he said.

“Each and every piece of information: the survey, what we got last night, what we’ve heard before — will all be considered in a weighted fashion” was Councilman Steven Morgan’s response.

During council comments, all five members were positive on the process so far.

Vice Mayor Chip Holloway emphasized that the goal is to get as much information from as many people as possible, using both the town hall meeting and the social media survey to do so. “My goal is to get true honest feedback from the community. We need more input,” he said. “I want to engage everybody.”

Clark thanked Town Hall attendees and emphasized that the process was useful in raising awareness all around. “I was pretty surprised by some of those goals myself. But even if they don’t become our top three, they’re on our radar screen,” he said. “Ones that only got one vote up there — I’ll still think about those.”

Story First Published: 2014-04-09