Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Council turns its focus to future of city

During a retreat scheduled for tomorrow, Sylvania Council will begin working to develop a vision statement for the city.

Council members will meet with Dan Romano, co-founder of Edventures in Learning Inc., during the retreat that will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the senior center.

At its recent meeting, council accepted the proposal of Edventures, 1916 Colony Drive, Toledo, to provide visioning and alignment facilitation services at a cost not to exceed $15,000.

Some council members have pushed for the creation of a mission and vision statement, contending that without a roadmap, it's difficult to know what direction to take when it comes to making decisions that impact the community.

Mark Bula, who is serving his first term on council, said a vision plan would provide the city with a long-term view and would help city officials in such areas as development of capital budgets.

He and other council members recently have raised concerns about the city's "wish list" of capital projects that add up to between $48 million and $52 million in expenditures over the next five years.

Council members note that the city has a reserve of $28 million, but the city's revenue stream has been flat for the last few years with no projections that that trend will change.

"I think in a city that continues to grow and continues to have opportunities we need to understand where we're going and how we make decisions," Mr. Bula said, adding that the city needs to have some guiding principles. The retreat, he said, is a "great first step" towards development of the vision statement.

Acting as a citizen, not a council member, Mr. Bula has scheduled a public forum at 7 p.m. tonight at Wingate Inn & Suites in downtown Sylvania to discuss strategic visioning for the city. Participants in Sylvania Vision 2010 will be actively engaged in hands-on activities and should be prepared to discuss the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats to the community, he said.

Barbara Sears, council president, said Edventures would meet with city personnel before the retreat to gather background information so that the firm can "hit the ground running" tomorrow. Elected officials and city employees possess a "huge wealth of institutional knowledge," she said. A vision statement puts down on paper where the city wants to be and documents that knowledge and wisdom, she said.

According to information from Edventures, the desired outcome of this process is to develop a clear and concise vision statement that represents a "mental model" of the future of the city.

This statement, according to Edventures, is to become the driving force and desired destination to which council, city administrators, staff, and the community can bring into being by their commitment and actions.

The firm also will assist the city in developing a set of guiding principles that would help city leaders deciding policies, budgets, initiatives, and other issues.

Mrs. Sears anticipates that a concise mission statement will be developed as a result of the retreat.

That statement, she said, likely will catapult some additional meetings and additional work on the document.

After council finalizes its position on the mission statement, public input will be sought, she said, "to find out whether the citizens think we're on track."

After that, additional tweaking would be done as needed, according to Mrs. Sears.

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