© Eric Sparling - Amherst Daily News
Mayor Robert Small and Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce president David Mosley with one of the pages of suggestions developed during Friday’s lunch meeting.
AMHERST – Amherst Mayor Rob Small, came to a lunch meeting here Friday with a question.
“Where (do) we want to go?”
He posed the question to those in attendance Friday at an Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Christ Church Parish Hall.
A mix of business leaders, senior town staff and local politicians were in attendance.
Chamber president David Mosley said he wanted to give the mayor an opportunity to address the community’s business leaders, and give owners a chance to ask questions of the mayor.
“Shake the bushes a little bit,” he said.
Mosley expressed his wish to see increased collaboration among regional stakeholders, including business owners, chambers, RDAs and governments.
“Taxes are high,” he commented.
The mayor’s address was participatory. With a marker in hand, and a lot of white poster paper, he invited those in attendance to participate in a brainstorming session. The topic? Suggest tasks the new council should focus on when it’s elected in Oct.
“No idea’s a stupid idea,” said Small, inviting people to throw out ideas but discouraging evaluation of those ideas at that juncture.
The list was long.
Beautify the Exit 1 entrance to town.
Increase the community college’s presence.
Build the town’s population and improve efforts to welcome immigrants.
Expand on the Rockabilly Festival.
There were three dozen or so items suggested, ranging from fixing the town clock to building a safe sidewalk out to the hospital.
Small invited the room to vote informally on their priorities with a quick show of hands. Ideas receiving the most interest in that quick forum included having a tourism bureau in town, developing walking trails in the community, completing a regional marketing plan, and marketing the industrial park in an attempt to attract new businesses and employers.
Overwhelming support was expressed for pushing to get the new West Highlands school built. And Small highlighted a few things on council’s radar, including the move into their new location in the Dominion building, set for the end of October, as well as determining what course to take in securing a permanent home for police services. Small said a regional marketing plan is in development and he anticipated receiving it soon.