Support for local businesses, preparing for future fires, more festivals and local events and hiring more police officials came out high on the Westminster City Council’s list of 2022 priorities while climate action, promoting affordable housing, diversity training for police and advocating for better transportation options dropped off of the list.
Westminster City Councilors finalized their strategic priorities at a study session on Feb. 22.
The priorities include Preparedness and Resilience, Proactive Public Safety, Shared Sense of Community, Quality of Life and Robust Infrastructure.
Each priority came with a list of objectives, and some objectives did not make the cut.
During the weekend retreat, Mayor Nancy McNally said that constructing a Strategic Plan is difficult because many issues plague a city with only so much time to address them.
City Councilor Lindsey Emmons said she felt good about where the city is headed.
“I feel like there’s a direction,” she said.
Preparedness and Resilience
Councilors said they wanted to build a system of intentional support for residents, businesses and the environment to mitigate risks and proactively seek out ways to ensure the community not only endures but thrives.
The two objectives for this priority include mitigating the risk of wildfires and creating a more structured business support system.
Actions and goals around climate preparedness and resiliency were not included in the objectives. Creating a sustainable environment and conservation education did not receive enough votes to be included in the priority.
As well, promoting a diversity of housing options and decreasing the dependency on sales and use tax were nixed.
Proactive Public Safety
Councilors agreed that there is a need to enhance public safety to emphasize both prevention and enforcement, engage the community through education and outreach and provide the resources necessary to ensure safety and well-being throughout Westminster.
Attracting police and firefighters, and hiring more police co-responders and homeless navigators both made the list. As well, hiring civilian report writers that are appointed by the court to ensure the community that full investigations are done also made it.
Mayor Pro Tem DeMott sees the civilian report writers as a way to make sure all reports of crimes, including minor problems, are taken seriously.
For example for a minor crime, DeMott said that if officers are called away from a minor problem to a more intense situation, the full report of the minor crime may fall by the wayside and the victims would be directed to fill out a report online.
“If they catch someone who is on a crime spree that, let’s say broke into five cars in one neighborhood, they might be able to link someone to those crimes down the road by collecting that data,” he said. “The reality is, sometimes (officers) are too busy.”
Some objectives not included are training on diversity and inclusion for police officers, working with partners to address root causes of homelessness, creative ways of looking at policing and police resources and mental health days for police officers and firefighters.
Shared Sense of Community
Westminster needs to foster equitable opportunities that help residents feel at home and connected in their community and empowered to live their best lives, councilors agreed.
This priority’s objectives will be revisited in the future. Some proposed objectives are restarting Westy Fest and other events, movie nights in neighborhoods, creating equitable processes that welcome and include people, creating a connection among residents and establishing a neighborhood watch.
Quality of Life
Councilors said the city has a need to ensure that Westminster offers a diverse range of amenities and activities for residents, businesses and visitors that honor the city’s history and support the arts, parks, recreation, open spaces and libraries.
Completing trail connectivity was included in the objective.
Councilor Bruce Baker wanted to include dog license fees to be paid by the city, but the council said the item belongs in the budget process.
Items triggered a conversation about parking at the new downtown. Mayor McNally and Mayor Pro Tem DeMott raised concerns over parking fees and confusion over how to pay for them.
Council mixed many objectives pertaining to the arts, including supporting the arts and cultural experiences within the City, building needed amenities, establishing an Arts Commission and building a theater.
Councilors said they want to provide safe and equitable access to core services and amenities by safeguarding, maintaining and improving the city’s water, wastewater, stormwater, mobility and roadway systems.
Addressing the water treatment plant made that list as did providing education on water conservation, completing sidewalks in parts of the city that lack continuity, bringing sidewalks up to ADA compliance and completing the Comprehensive Plan.
Advocating for better transit, providing adequate parking and conducting an analysis to help make informed decisions regarding transportation infrastructure did not make the cut.
City staff will now compare the council’s existing and new objectives to make sure they align with the council’s stated priorities. Then, the council will prioritize final objectives and city staff will work to develop performance measures for each objective.