Special Beloit City Council Planning Session
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
By Terry Bailey
Members of the Beloit City Council gathered at City Hall on Tuesday night, March 28th. The City Councilors along with Mayor Tom Naasz, City Administrator Jason Rabe, City Attorney Katie Schroeder, and City Clerk Amanda Lomax met to continue an ongoing process of city planning. In the past John Devine has facilitated these meetings but this time the Council functioned quite well without him.
This purpose of this ongoing collaboration is to ask each other and themselves: 1) What does the City of Beloit need to continue to function as a viable city in the future? To facilitate their thinking numerous sheets of white paper were taped to the walls and labeled. In this exercise the labels were:
A) Streets, bridges, drainage
B) Public Safety
C) Public Buildings,
D) Waste Water.
E) Storm Water,
H) Parks and Recreation,
I) Capitol Improvement
The Councilors circled the room and wrote their ideas for City improvement on each of the appropriate sheets of paper.
A sampling of those ideas listed is as follows in no particular order of importance or significance: What to do with the Little Red Schoolhouse?, Safe Bike Routes through the city, new baseball/softball complex, traffic control at East 8th Street and Highway 24, Replace White Building at Chautauqua Park, A paved parking lot for the Port Library and football stadium, replace bathrooms at Cookie baseball field, and replace or refurbish the water treatment plant.
The listing of ideas was quite extensive. Many items came up on each Councilors list such as how to provide safe and plentiful drinking water for the citizens of Beloit. Some items indicated preference of each Councilor and the constituents they represented.
At this point the Councilors were asked to list their top four or five items from the first listing of topics. As they mulled over their choices they were reminded to keep in mind: cost of the selection, public need, and the number of people impacted. Agreeing on a project that does the most good for the most people at the lowest cost has merit but this may not be easily accomplished.
Once again some, but not all, of the projects listed were: Improving the water plant, holding down property tax costs, Improving West Main Street, Improving East 8th Street, Restoring Westside Park to a usable condition, and creating a usable and attractive baseball/softball complex.
Completing the evening’s exercises was an attempt to arrive at a ballpark estimate of what each of these projects would cost and taking a look at how money could be raised to fund some or all of the projects.
Citizens of Beloit are encouraged to contact their councilor to express their opinions on projects they believe are necessary for the Council to consider. Public input will help them know how best to proceed to build the kind of City its people would like to have.
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