When planning for the city's future, here's a novel approach: Ask the residents.
The Sequim City Council has set a town hall meeting for April 28 to do exactly that, to ask the city's residents what their concerns and priorities are and in what direction they'd like to see Sequim head.
"I feel that we're going through a transition," resident Ruth Marcus said during the March 17 study session of the council. "I think what citizens are realizing is that they've been asleep."
The citizen involvement topic began after Councilman Ken Hays attempted to open discussion on criteria, makeup and direction of a proposed citizens' advisory committee. Hays introduced the idea of such a committee earlier this year, garnering support from the majority of the council, but specifics have yet to be discussed. Hays presented the council with a number of suggestions for the committee's goals, including establishing a system for performance management and creating a smart growth program (including the creation of code ordinances).
"These are just my suggestions of where to start. It's not anything I'm trying to sell you on or anything," said Hays. "I do feel like it's important to take the community's vitals."
According to Hays, the committee would be responsible for revising the city's vision for growth and development but also could bring transparency back to the government.
"The citizens have been involved and we have been transparent," Councilman Walt Schubert countered. Schubert said that Sequim already had direction in the form of its comprehensive plan, which was mandated by the state's Growth Management Act and involved public participation. "I think you four want to stop growth, and that's fine. You can go down that road and it'll have its own story," Schubert said.
Hays said that "smart growth" is not the same as "no growth."
Growth, Hays said, would come to Sequim no matter what. It's the city's responsibility to be ready for such growth, to plan for it with intelligence and foresight, he said. "I wish we could get beyond the growth, no growth debate," Hays said, adding that a citizens' advisory board would be healthy for the community.
Although Hays had planned for the council to discuss the advisory committee's criteria, conversation was sidetracked. Councilman Bill Huizinga said before the formation of a committee, the council needed to sit down and formulate goals for themselves.
"The main thing is, where are we going," said Huizinga.
Mayor Laura Dubois suggested a quarterly newsletter, a booth at the Open Aire Market and town hall meetings in order to draw the public out and find out what their priorities were.
"I wonder if we should have a committee to form a committee," Hays said.
The council eventually agreed, in lieu of a regular council meeting, to host a town hall meeting (somewhat like a roundtable discussion) at
5 p.m. Monday, April 28, to better accommodate business owners in the community who have trouble attending morning or daytime meetings.
The council set a tentative date of April 19 to sit down with a facilitator with the purpose of setting council goals.
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