Over the span of two days, Paducah’s City Commission identified 10 priorities for improvement during 2022, in its annual strategic planning retreat held this year at City Hall.
On Friday, the commission asked for goals from each of the city’s department heads to see what some of each department’s goals for the year were, then narrowed down priorities over the course of four hours on Saturday.
Those priorities, in no particular ranking of importance, are as follows: Southside, housing, 911 system improvements, minority inclusion, downtown, growth, beautification, trails and bike path enhancement, streamlining the city’s construction development process, and protecting key historical and cultural resources.
Mayor George Bray said the commission receives a quarterly report during the fiscal year that details what has been done to try and make progress on the commission’s priorities.
“We hold ourselves accountable,” Bray said.
Improvements and enhancements to the Southside neighborhoods dominated much of the early conversation. All of the commissioners and Bray were on board with keeping the Southside a priority, but discussed how to actually go about making improvements in some of the eight neighborhoods and what would be beneficial to the people who live and work there.
After much discussion, the commission decided to focus on two areas of improvement in the Southside so that resources were not spread thin: residential developments in the Walter Jetton neighborhood, and commercial opportunities. Bray suggested the Walter Jetton developments could center around the Dunlap project taking place at the old Walter C. Jetton Junior High School.
One idea for commercial opportunities that was suggested was bringing in a small, local grocery store where Southside residents could walk from their homes and pick up fresh produce.
Housing also arose as a possible area of focus for the Southside, but the commission determined that housing opportunities throughout all of Paducah for all levels of income should be a priority.
Improvements to the 911 system continue to be a priority for the city. Carol Gault, who is a member of the 911 Communications Oversight Committee, said the committee is looking into ways that the city and county can fund the much-need radio system replacement, which is estimated to cost between $8 million and $12 million.
Commissioner Raynarldo Henderson advocated for minority inclusion to remain a priority for the city this year. He said the city should focus on intentionally considering a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open positions in different city departments, including the police and fire departments.
One of Bray’s goals was to enhance the city’s recycling program. This goal got wrapped into the city’s beautification priority, which also would focus on public art opportunities and enhancing other city services like brush pickup and the Paducah 311 service app. The city commission also plans to host at least two town halls to invite residents to share their opinions on the city’s beautification idea.
Commissioner Sandra Wilson suggested the city invest in some of its historical or culturally relevant sites to make sure Paducahans recognize the importance of those sites. The commission identified four sites in particular for the city to focus on: Columbia Theatre, Stuart Nelson Park, Hotel Metropolitan and Robert Cherry Civic Center.
Commissioner David Guess suggested making streamlining the city’s construction development process a priority so that developers would have a more clear idea of how long it would take to get a permit issued.
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