Elkins Council updated on strategic plan

ELKINS –Elkins City Council members got a brief update of the proposed five-year strategic plan for the city of Elkins during their Thursday evening meeting.

Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton explained the strategic plan — available for view on the city of Elkins website — is open to public comment until it is brought before council members during the Sept. 6 city council meeting and added an open forum will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday at The Arts Center in Elkins.

“To date I have not received any comments, verbal or in writing. Of course, there was an opportunity during tonight’s public comments and that period will remain open until Sept. 6, during that public comment period then we intend to bring it before the council for vote,” Sutton said. “There is a public forum scheduled for next Wednesday, Aug. 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the community arts center. There will be a brief presentation at the beginning, then we will have tables set up where council people will be scattered to provide information.”

The proposed five-year strategic plan offers a list of projects, action items and target dates for accomplishing goals by 2023.

The proposed strategic plan has several focus areas. Focus area No. 1 is “Redevelopment and beautification of downtown Elkins.” Under that heading are topics including “Enhanced public safety, neighborhood engagement,” “Public landscaping and private education,” “Beautification,” “Vehicle and pedestrian access” and “Tygart Hotel restoration.”

Focus area No. 2 is “Execution of the Master Facilities Plan for Elkins.” Topics under that heading include “Facility renovations and improvements to the Phil Gainer Community Center,” “Facility renovations and improvements to City Hall,” “Kump House and Darden House,” “Operations Facilities and Equipment” and “Geographic Information System (GIS) Capability.”

Focus area No. 3 is “Improved communication,” with topics including “Development of a communications plan,” “City government presence” and “City marketing.”

Focus area No. 4 is “Review and enhancement of governance and process protocols.” Topics include “Adoption of recurring agenda items,” “City manager,” “Departmental policies,” “Training,” “Examine city charter,” “City Code review,” “Review organizational structure” and “increase public engagement.”

Focus area No. 5 is “Exploration of city boundary expansion opportunities,” with topics including “Development and execution of an action plan for ‘doughnut hole’ properties,” “Development and execution of an action plan for city limits expansion opportunities” and “identify and promote business needs.”

Perhaps the biggest potential change outlined in the proposed plan would be the creation of a city manager position and altering the form of government in the city of Elkins.

According to the proposed strategic plan, the city hopes to “determine (the) feasibility of creating the city manager position” by June 2019, and by the same month to “determine (the) feasibility of reducing council seats.” The proposed plan states the city would then “solicit public input for conversion to city manager form of government” by September 2019, “study the city manager style of government” by December 2019 and “investigate City Charter revisions in relation to potential change in form of city government” by March 2020.