(WASHINGTON) - Washington Mayor Joe Wellman will hold another Public Input Listening Sessions tonight at the West End Fire Station from 6-8 p.m.
Andrea McCann, of the Times-Herald, reports that the first session on Tuesday night went well. More than 60 people turned out at the Eastside Park Community Building to communicate their priorities for Washington.
Facilitator Tonya Brothers-Bridge of Transformation Team Inc., Ferdinand, led the session, asking for ideas to make Washington an even better place to live and work. She explained that after the brainstorming, priorities would be set.
The first comment came as no surprise to longtime City Councilman Joe Fleck: clean up the trash and abandoned cars to beautify the city. Many other comments were similar: Do something with the Tokheim building, whether it's raze it and create a new park or renovate and repurpose it. Clean out the creek at Jersey Street. See what can be done about abandoned properties.
Other ideas focused more on bringing in new business and young families: Dress up the entrances to the city for a good first impression. Require curbs to be put in when new developments are constructed. Add sidewalks, especially where people walk to ballgames and the park. Build walking and biking paths. Bring more cultural events to the city.
Have a proactive tax policy. Require property owners to maintain their properties. Have appropriate zoning and infrastructure in place.
Wellman said what was particularly gratifying to him was that people were willing to not only share ideas, but also to offer solutions. Some of those were to enforce the noise ordinance and animal welfare laws; hire a code enforcement official; have someone responsible for rule enforcement at the park, even if it's citizen volunteers; make Washington smoke-free; utilize the park and gazebo more for inexpensive, local entertainment, and save the Indiana Theater; and have places and activities, such as a skating rink or skateboard park, for teens to keep them out of trouble.
One person suggested researching ideas before attempting to implement them by going to other cities to see what they're doing and talking to city officials about how they achieved it. Another suggested looking back to Washington's heyday and analyzing what the city did right in the past to keep people living, working and shopping here; then, looking at how to make that happen again.
After the brainstorming, each participant was given five green stickers to place next to their five top priorities. The same will be done at listening sessions today at the West End Fire Station from 6-8 p.m. and April 11 at the City Council Chambers 10 a.m. to noon. Then, Wellman said, the council will look at the combined list and start creating an action plan. Even ideas not selected as top priorities will be retained for future use.
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