CONYERS - The current Rockdale Board of Commissioners (BOC) held their first strategic planning meeting for commissioners to generate some ideas and set goals for the future of the county.
Ultimately, at the conclusion of the two-hour meeting Tuesday afternoon, the board of three decided the initial steps in creating a strategic plan for the county would be to put out a survey and hold a town hall meeting for the public to have some input on the plan as well.
The survey will "maybe" have about 5 questions, with a mixture of short-answer and yes or no, although there wasn't a finally decision at the meeting, which took place at the J.P. Carr Center, 90 Hardin St., Conyers.
Dan Reuter, manager of the Community Development Center for Livable Communities with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), was the facilitator of the meeting and told the board it would take about two weeks to gather more intel from county staff to put together a list a of survey questions. Then the board members will decided which questions will go out to the public a few weeks later.
No specific date was set for the town hall meeting, although the board suggested it should take place after the survey results are complete. County Chairman and CEO Richard Oden suggested leaving the survey available for submissions for a lengthy amount of time in order to get a good read on what the 86,000 citizens of Rockdale County want and need.
Post 2 County Commissioner Doreen Williams agreed.
"I don't think there's any need to rush the timeline," said Williams, who has been spearheading this need for a strategic plan since she was campaigning to become a commissioner a year ago.
Post 1 County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt says that doing a survey would be a "basic start" and "community-friendly approach."
"We need input from the community," he said. "We have to give them that platform to have a say."
Williams, who has been spearheading this need for a strategic plan since she was campaigning to become a commissioner a year ago, seemed rather pleased at the dialogue during the meeting.
"I'm excited about where we're headed. I feel like we got a lot done today. We learned a lot, reviewed a lot, and I think we have a plan for where we're headed next," she said.
Four key areas
After previous talks with county staff and community stakeholders, Reuter and his ARC staff simplified the areas of focus for the county into four main categories: economy, community, planning and transportation.
Economy: The two most important things to come out of the meeting from better economic development is for the county to develop a brand and market better to developers and to institute community improvement districts and/or tax allocation districts. Both districts create friendly areas of construction for developers, according to local officials.
Community: Creating more public engagements with county officials is important for the community strategic plan. More than likely this would be achieved through hosting more events and town hall meetings, sending out newsletters and being active on social media.
Planning: This area mainly focuses on the planning that will have to be done to execute and implement the strategic plan going forward. The hardest part of the strategic plan is the actual implementation, says Reuter. Also, the board the county should evaluate water and sewer capacity to catalytic future economic development locations for businesses and resident areas.
Transportation: The key things concerning transportation are improving the aesthetics along the major corridors, interchanges and gateways into the county, figuring out how to spend new tax funds from the transportation bill that was recently passed by state legislation and possibly constructing another bridge over I-20 to manage the often congested state route 138.
These topics and others will be discussed in greater depth at the next strategic plan meeting, which won't happen until after the survey period is complete.