Council to seek public input for 5-year plan

A process aimed at compiling a five-year plan to guide future spending and action by city council will be open to the public, Councilman Dave Nestic said.

“If people want to come and provide their input, I think that’s good,” he said.

Nestic made the comment during a city council Planning Committee meeting Tuesday night also attended by Councilmen K. Bret Apple, Brian Whitehill and Rick Drummond, Council President Mickey Cope Weaver, Mayor John Berlin, city Auditor Betty Brothers and city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst.

The idea of the planning process was first raised by Nestic in May during a Committee of the Whole meeting of city council, with council members assigned to chair four subcommittees dealing with infrastructure, community development, housing and zoning and services.

During a meeting in June, the Planning Committee facilitated by Nestic charted the process to be used to formulate the five-year plan, noting the next step would be for subcommittee chairs to fill their rosters and review previously gathered material such as the Downtown Salem Technical Advisory Committee Plan, the Comprehensive Sustainable Plan and the Salem 2020 Plan. They also planned to visit some like-sized cities to use as benchmarks or comparison.

The work is still being done to fill those subcommittee rosters and anyone interested in serving can contact Nestic at Drummund is chairing community development, Whitehill is chairing housing and zoning and Apple is chairing services. Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey is being asked to chair the infrastructure committee because Councilman Jeff Cushman has indicated he may not be able to continue as chair of that committee.

Nestic explained the whole purpose is to develop a prioritized list of actionable items council can refer to regarding the functions of government (infrastructure, community development, housing and zoning and services) when deciding how to spend money and plan for desired outcomes

“It’s meant to be simple,” he said, adding the plan is supposed to be something they can easily revisit.

The committee spent a lot of time throwing out names for consideration for the different subcommittees and talking about the first four-hour brainstorming session the subcommittees will hold on a Saturday sometime this fall.

Nestic said they’ll probably spend the first hour of the session reviewing the background data from looking at other cities and already compiled information from other plans. Then they’ll look at where Salem is today, where Salem wants to be in five years, brainstorm some action items and prioritize those action items.

Action items could be anything from getting a new ladder truck for the fire department to fixing a drainage problem or adding more police. Eventually he said they’ll tag costs to the prioritized items, but stressed the process isn’t going to solve the problems.

He said they’ll be identifying the problem or as Whitehill said, “Diagnosis first.”

Nestic asked the subcommittees to get their rosters solidified in the next week, then start on the background research. A date and place will be set for the first brainstorming sessions.

According to the original overview of the planning process, the lists formulated by the subcommittees will be shared with the community, with input sought from the public. The Planning Committee will review the subcommittee and community input and finalize the report of prioritized action items. Plans called for a final report to be reviewed by the Committee of the Whole and sent to city council for approval.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at