By Mayor Shelby Rognstad
It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve as mayor of Sandpoint.
This is a particularly important time as the city is carrying out its 2017 strategic plan and is in the middle of an unprecedented master planning effort affecting every division within the city. The plans we develop over this next year will determine how we prioritize spending over the next 10-20 years and beyond. Good planning will ensure we remain focused on our priorities and are efficient with taxpayer dollars for decades to come.
When I was first elected, voters made it clear they wanted more transparent government. I responded by making city government as accessible, transparent and responsive to citizen concerns as ever before. All of our public meetings are available for streaming online. We have a new online platform to increase participation and make it easier for voters to give us feedback on issues from public parks and amenities to customer satisfaction with city services.
We created the first municipal mobile app in Idaho and the Inland Northwest, called Engage Sandpoint, putting all of our online services in the palm of your hand. If you haven’t yet, you can download the app in the Appstore.
We’ve initiated a Community Resource Officer Division within the police department, bringing parking enforcement back under the city’s management and increasing efficiency and effectiveness of code enforcement.
We’ve taken input to change our approach for the final phase of downtown street project and dramatically reduced the impact on downtown businesses.
I’ve also worked hard to ensure that Sandpoint continues to have the high quality of life that has come to define our community. This means affordability, environmental health, access to public amenities, abundant recreational opportunities, public safety, health, arts and culture, and quality public services and facilities.
One success I’m very proud of is securing a $250,000 grant from Blue Cross Foundation that supported community health by providing our youth easy access to nutritious foods and increased their opportunities for physical exercise. This grant helped to attract the YMCA to town and to build the Outdoor Education Center at the new Pine Street Woods.
I’ve also led environmental initiatives like opposing the Silicon Smelter project in Newport. I’m proud to report the Smelter as yet hasn’t moved forward. Our work to protect our air and water quality is making a difference.
I’ve also focused my efforts to ensure that we have a vibrant economy that creates jobs and is resilient in the face of a changing regional and global economy. Sandpoint is filled with entrepreneurs and innovators. We need to continue to find creative ways to support our small businesses and job creators. In such an effort, we completed the high-speed fiber network that has brought affordable high speed internet to Sandpoint. Planning is now under way to bring the network to the downtown business community.
Combined with new streets, parking and public spaces, downtown will be a more attractive place to do business than ever before.
Moving forward, I have a number of exciting priorities. I will continue to work with regional partners to make Sandpoint employers more successful, attract new jobs to the area and foster innovation that is the hallmark of the local economy. Combined with workforce development and education initiatives we can raise wages.
I will continue to work with regional partners to develop innovative solutions to address the growing housing crisis in our city and our region.
I will implement the vision of the community-driven Parks Master Plan, further establishing Sandpoint as a premier recreation destination.
I will continue to make this government more efficient and responsive to your concerns. I will work hard to make sure Sandpoint continues to be one of the best small towns in America.
I invite you reach out to me to share your thoughts on important issues and ways that we can make Sandpoint a better place to live.
Please join me Friday, Sept. 20 at the Mayor’s Roundtable, 8 a.m., at Cedar St. Bistro in the Cedar Street Bridge where we will discuss issues important to Sandpoint.
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