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‘Forward thinking’ on the menu for North Augusta City Council

October 5, 2018

When looking at desirable attributes of a city council, North Augusta City Council members and staff decided on one top attribute: forward thinking.

Council met Friday afternoon for the first day of Envision 2018B. The meeting was facilitated by Tom Hallman, and Council members and department directors, with input from members of the public, created a list of ideas, projects and concerns using the idea of forward thinking.

At the beginning of the meeting, Hallman encouraged each participant to write a list of people, events, developments and projects that were of note from 1985 until 2018. Each event was placed on a timeline with bright yellow sticky notes.

The list, made up of around 40 of those yellow notes, included Riverside Village, the Greeneway trail, former Mayor Lark Jones, changes at the Savannah River Site, the Peach Jam, North Augusta Star founders Sam and Mim Woodring, the Palmetto Parkway and more.

That 33-year timeline was then broken up into three parts: called the Foundation Years, the Awakening and Think Big.

For each aspect of the meeting, Council members and city staff were often paired up to discuss and compare thoughts.

“What I like about it is open discussion between the staff and City Council, and I think (Hallman is) reviewing points that are very important to us as council members and giving us a new vision on maybe how to plan our future for this city,” said Councilwoman Pat Carpenter.

“I just think our city’s on such a big growth spurt right now, and I think this is going to help us to lead us in the right direction as to which paths to take that we continue our growth but maintain our little bedroom feel,” Carpenter said.

She said she also enjoys hearing sides from both employees of the city and elected officials, as well as members of the public.

After looking at the past 33 years, Council members then talked about desirable aspects of City Council, resulting in forward thinking as their top choice.

Mike Hitchler was one of the North Augusta residents who gave input during the planning session and said he thought the meeting was great.

“First time I’ve seen it mapped out as to exactly where we are and where we seem to be going,” he said. “I think the ideas here are great if we can actually get an implementation plan.”

Around 25 ideas, concerns and questions ended up on the city’s “forward thinking” list; from senior recreation opportunities to whether parking decks will be obsolete in 15 years to securing the Savannah River in its current state.

North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Rick Meyer said Friday’s meeting was a positive step for the city.

“I hope what we’ve done is give you another way to look at recent history … and to have a different way of thinking about how that came to pass,” Hallman said to those present.

“To see where the city was when we got here versus where it is now is absolutely incredible,” he said. “You know – significant changes – and to understand where we came from and how you got there, and there’s a lot of people who deserve credit for that including the citizens of North Augusta.”

Meyer mentioned the importance of local residents in helping create Riverview Park, which passed City Council on a 4-3 vote, he said, because the city listens to citizens and did in that case.

North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit said he enjoyed being able to sit down and hear others’ opinions, and that he liked that residents were involved, as well.

“The work now begins,” he said to Council. The second day of Envision 2018B is planned for Oct. 22, so what’s next?

“To take some of the ideas that we talked about here and flesh them out more,” Pettit said. “Grouping them together and starting to identify where we want to go.”

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