Consultants who have met with South Boston Town Council members on two previous occasions presented a strategic plan for the town at a town council work session joint committee meeting Monday evening.
Jeff Sadler, owner/ founder of Complete Community Economies, LLC, and his colleague Natalie Hodge shared the plan resulting from strategic town council planning sessions and one-on-one conversations with council members. Staff of the town of South Boston will focus on the priorities established by town council members in the planning sessions over the next few years.
Councilman Tommy Elliott thanked Sadler and Hodge for a “job well done” on the strategic plan.
“It was refreshing to know that we as council members are all thinking pretty much alike, and that will make it much easier in the future to try to correct the problems we have,” Elliott said. “We can already see fruits of our labor. I see things happening in Riverdale. I also see Anthony Womack (founder of the group Men of Sinai) is getting a little action over there on Sinai Road, so I think it is very beneficial.”
Transforming the Riverdale area of town and addressing frequent flooding in that area was established as a top priority in the planning sessions. The town discussed creating green space and landscaping and removing blight in Riverdale. The second priority area identified by council members and listed in Sadler’s report was blighting and derelict buildings in the community that are vacant, unsafe and/ or damaged. The third priority area was the downtown area and the John Randolph Hotel project.
Another main priority area identified by council members and listed in Sadler’s report is the west end of South Boston and the Westside Mobile Home Park, which Elliott referenced in his remarks on the strategic plan. VDOT workers recently widened a portion of Sinai Road and outlined a pedestrian travel lane as part of overall efforts to improve conditions for pedestrian travel along that highway. The safety of pedestrian travel on Sinai Road has been a major topic of discussion in recent council meetings, and Womack, a Sinai resident, has worked with the town of South Boston, the county and VDOT on that issue.
Town clerk Jane Jones also commented on the positive outcome of council’s strategic planning sessions.
“I have been to a lot of council retreats and council planning sessions over the many, many years. This year we did something a little different. I thought it worked well,” Jones said. “I thought council was open and had lots of different views. You all come to the table from different backgrounds, but you came together to think as a group, instead of your individual agendas or priorities. These goals will certainly give the town manager clear guidance on what you expect us to be doing …I appreciate the time you all put into helping us (town staff).”
The leadership of town manager Tom Raab and the administration of the town’s finances was one of the main successes cited by town council members and included in Sadler’s report. Council members also pointed out the town had done good work in bringing the SOVA Innovation Hub to the community, and the town consistently offers “superior” public services to its residents.
“Opportunity” areas for improvement named by town council members in the planning sessions are a succession/contingency plan for town employees, the town’s communications, partnering with the county, workforce/ middle income housing and maintaining a high quality of life for the town’s residents.
On the subject of maintaining a high quality of life, Councilman Joe Chandler commended Downtown South Boston Farmers Market manager Megan Throckmorton-Harris on Saturday morning’s event “Butts on Broad” for all members of the community. Chandler remarked that such events contribute to the high quality of life of South Boston residents.
After Sadler and Hodge presented the strategic plan to council, finance director Mickey Wilkerson presented a healthy financial report for the month of September. She noted the town’s revenues were slightly higher than expenditures. She also told council the personal property tax bills had been mailed to residents last week, and revenues from personal property taxes were already starting to trickle in to the town’s finance office. Wilkerson also said the town is on track to hit its goal in the collection of delinquent personal property taxes by the end of December.
On another note, Mayor Ed Owens, council member Sharon Harris and Chandler commented on their positive experience attending the Virginia Municipal League conference recently. Harris shared that Owens was elected as vice-chairman of the town’s section of the Virginia Municipal League.