AMHERST – Amherst is well on its way to setting its priorities for the next four years.
“There are three pieces to strategic planning. Where we are now, where we are going and how are we going to get there? We have completed the where are we portion in terms of what we heard from the Chamber of Commerce, from staff and from the election campaign,” Mayor Robert Small said. “We have established a framework for staff to go back and come up with a plan as to what’s required to complete these and to put them in priority sequence.”
Small expects staff to bring a report to council in January that will identify the town’s strategic priorities and an action plan for each priority.
Council and staff met last week during a daylong planning session that was similar to what was done following the 2008 municipal election. It was from that session that the Centre First Downtown Action Strategy, the Amherst Youth Town Council, the redevelopment of Dickey Park, construction of a skate park and the beautification of the town were identified as priorities.
Small said the town hasn’t decided how many priorities it will work on over the next four years. He said council wants to hear from staff before making any decisions on how many projects to take on.
The mayor said councillors heard many suggestions during the election campaign ranging from a new police facility, to concerns over taxation and a possible tax review. It also heard about the ongoing regional marketing strategy as well as a communication strategy for the town.
Small said community development and economic development were other priorities identified by the business community and by residents.
Deputy Mayor George Baker said the session was a success in that it looked at the opportunities the town has as well as the threats and challenges it could face in the next 12 to 48 months.
“This session was very successful in covering many of the current issues, opportunities and threats facing the town over the next year and beyond, while keeping our current operational responsibilities and capabilities in mind,” Baker said.
Both Baker and Small said the town has to be careful to set priorities that are within its means and ones that are attainable.