By Mayor Shelby Rognstad
I hope all had a happy holiday season. As is customary at this time of year, I’d like to share a brief State of The City to celebrate a few successes in 2017 and give you a heads up on developments underway in 2018.
Last year the city completed Phase 2 of the fiber project. Three providers signed leases on the city’s fiber network, increasing competition in the local market which resulted in higher speeds and more affordable internet for Sandpoint. Expect to see improved service to homes and small business later this year.
Notable public works projects included the downtown street two-way reversion, the Schweitzer Cut-off Roundabout and bridge project and the Phase 1 sewer replacement on First Avenue.
The Strategic Planning Initiative kicked off in 2017 with council and our leadership team. Resiliency, improved communications, accountability and effectiveness were primary goals prioritized by city leadership. To meet these goals, council passed the city’s first Financial Reserve Policy, ensuring the city has the means to meet financial obligations in the midst of economic downturns, emergencies and other unforeseen financial challenges. The city contracted with Opengov to enhance financial transparency for the public while enabling data driven decision making for city leadership. Included in Opengov is an online forum, Open Town Hall, which gives the city enhanced outreach and engagement capacity through the city’s website.
Finally, I have initiated a Mayor’s Roundtable inviting the public to meet with me monthly to discuss updates and issues important to the city. Previously called “Lunch with the Mayor,” the Mayor’s Roundtable is now meeting at 8 a.m. on the last Friday of the month at Cedar St. Bistro.
The City’s Strategic Planning Initiative will continue in 2018 with the Citizen Survey. This will be the test run of Open Town Hall and will give the public the opportunity to provide valuable feedback to City Council on city priorities, levels of service and other important issues.
Open Town Hall will also be used to invite public feedback on continued planning for the U of I Boyer property. After completing the Comp Plan Map Revision in late 2017, a more detailed analysis is underway to develop a plan that can accomplish the goals identified in the Comp Plan revision.
Downtown revitalization will continue this year as bids go out soon for construction of Phase 1, Cedar Street from Fifth to Second. Phase 2 of the sewer replacement project will complete the sewer main on First from Bridge Street to Cedar and Second. Design and scope of work for second Phase of Downtown Revitalization will also be done this year and will include Farmin’s Landing along Sand Creek. It will also give special consideration to the First/Bridge/Church intersection to ensure the best outcome for safety and traffic flow. There will be ample opportunity to participate in all these planning efforts through public workshops and the Open Town Hall online platform.
Wastewater treatment is another major issue facing the city in 2018. The city has contracted JUB to assist in developing a facility plan. The city’s wastewater treatment plant is at the end of its useful life. Now is the time for the city to plan for a new facility that can meet future growth and future permits which are likely to have heightened discharge standards. Thoughtful planning can ensure least impact on utility rate payers. Two locations are currently being considered, the existing site at Lakeview Park and the Baldy site where the disc golf course is located. Public input will be sought after the plan develops over the next couple months.
This year will include a revision of the Parks Master Plan. Special consideration will be given to City Beach, Farmin’s Landing and Sand Creek Lot. The purpose of the plan is to identify opportunities to improve our parks to better meet public needs. The Little Sand Creek Watershed will also be considered. As we see with the Watershed Crest Trail, there may be economic and quality of life benefits to be gained from expanded use of the City’s watershed.
To discuss these topics in greater depth please join me for The Mayor’s Roundtable at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at Cedar St. Bistro.