I wish everyone a happy New Year. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I want to take this opportunity to usher in 2019 with a brief State of the City address. The city of Sandpoint has accomplished so much in 2018 that I’m truly proud of and I want to focus on a few of the highlights. I also want to give a you a glimpse into 2019 and what to look forward to.
The city completed the first phase of the downtown revitalization project on Cedar Street creating a more pedestrian friendly, attractive streetscape with storm-water management features and better parking. The project was completed under budget and on-time. The second phase, slated for next fall, will prove to be even better. We’ve reached out to downtown business owners and stakeholders and together we have come up with a number of improvements from phase one that will minimize impact to business, traffic and improve the overall experience for everyone.
The city also created a community resource officer division within the police department in 2018. This provided needed relief for patrol officers, improved code enforcement, community relations and brought parking enforcement back under city control.
Last June, the city launched “Engage Sandpoint,” the first municipal app in the Inland Northwest and in Idaho. It gives citizens greater ability to participate in government, stay informed and helps improve city services. Download it on your smartphone and register your business, your bike, see the city council agenda, or report a pothole. These are just a few of the many tools available at your fingertips.
Last February, we launched the OpenTownHall platform (which you can also find on Engage Sandpoint) that also aides civic participation and gives the city a powerful tool for collecting data and making informed decisions based on public input. All future surveys and invitations for public input will be posted on this platform. Coming soon you will be invited to complete a citizen survey through OpenTownHall where we will be able to assess how well we are meeting public demand and expectations for city services. Combined with our OpenGov platform that was launched in 2017, these tools are an important part of the city council’s initiative to make city government more transparent and improve public engagement. They also demonstrate the city’s commitment toward data driven decision making, another council priority. Both of which were made explicit in our Strategic Plan which was completed in 2018.
One exciting project for 2019 is a parks master plan revision. The city is currently seeking a consultant to guide the effort which will include significant public outreach, a review of our current programs, asset inventory, needs assessment and identify opportunities for improved services and efficiencies. After an initial overview and inventory, the plan will focus on specific areas such as City Beach, Sand Creek parking lot, and our athletic fields. The plan will also consider future recreation in the Little Sandcreek Watershed. Phase 1 of the Watershed Crest Trail was just completed this fall and represents the first recreational use within the watershed. This planning process will guide the city in planning future trails in the watershed and help council determine what level of recreational, nonmotorized use is appropriate.
The Baldyfoot Disc Golf Course will also be under consideration. The City Council determined that the city-owned parcel on which it is located will no longer be needed for a future wastewater treatment plant. The future wastewater plant expansion will occur at the existing Lakeview site. Therefore, the city’s wastewater utility will have to consider disposing of the property. Advocates for the course, including the city, Kaniksu Land Trust and others have begun to search for means to retain the course at that site. My hope is that the importance of the course is clearly expressed by the public through the master planning process. With considerable public support, there will be political will to find a solution and save the course.
There will be many opportunities to participate in the Parks Master Plan through the course of 2019. There will be surveys conducted through OpenTownHall and there will be in-person public workshops. Updates will be posted as they arise. 2019 will be an exciting year for Sandpoint. By participating in your government you can have a significant role in building its future. I encourage all of you to get involved and stay engaged. Download Engage Sandpoint or check out our website for regular updates and opportunities to participate. To discuss this and more, please join me this Friday, Jan. 25, at Mayor’s Roundtable.
Mayor’s Roundtable is held on the last Friday of the month from 8-9 a.m. at the Cedar Street
Bistro in the Cedar Street Bridge. I hope to see you there!
Shelby Rognstad is the mayor of Sandpoint. He can be reached at email@example.com.