When City Manager Jim Thomas rolled-out his Claremore Dreams 2025 initiative he said, “Over the next nine months, the city will engage every corner of our community, from elected leadership to department directors, from the citizens in our neighborhoods to our retail and industrial partners, our university to our local schools.”
As promised, the Claremore Dream 2025 initiative is bringing all voices to the table. Last week held the first of many meetings aimed at identifying Claremore’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
So far, two meetings have been held, one with city council members and the other with city department heads, but many more are in the books. The city council members agreed on the city’s top strengths. City amenities like the performing arts center, expo center, rec center and parks made that list. Great events, city leadership and financial stability also made the list. A lack of nightlife and unengaged citizens made the list of weaknesses.
The council members outlined some prime opportunities, like commercial development, Route 66 development, tourism signage and the draw of being a college town. One of the biggest threats to the city? Council members said “maintaining the status quo” and diminishing sales tax.
The council members prioritized the issues on a matrix that factored in both impact and effort. Deputy City Manager Jeri Koehler said a few issues overlapped between the meeting with the council members and the one with department heads. Department heads identified financial stability, stable city management and a good quality of life as the city’s key strengths.As with any conversation about Claremore’s weaknesses, the subject of trains and traffic came up.
Department heads discussed other internal issues they saw as city weaknesses. While nothing was set in stone, the department heads also identified opportunity, ranging from expansion of the downtown business district, to annexation. The department heads saw the potential loss of sales tax revenue due to online shopping as a possible threat.
“The time we spent with them last week is one piece of the bigger puzzle,” Koehler told the Progress Wednesday. “Today, we are doing the same thing with the leadership team Rogers State University. We’re sitting down with President Rice and his cabinet and asking them the same question — ‘What are their dreams for Claremore’s future?’”
Koehler said they hope to talk about how the city and RSU can work together, what bold initiatives they can tackle and what will make for a better quality of life for students, faculty and citizens.
“We’re going to have two sessions in June with our business leaders in the community and ask them the same questions, dreaming together,” she said. City employees will have the opportunity to brainstorm their ideas in July. Town hall meetings for the public begin in August.
While the locations have not been finalized, citizens are invited to the meetings by ward:
◾ Ward 1 – Thursday, Aug. 10, 6-8 p.m.
◾ Ward 2 – Thursday, Sept. 14, 6-8 p.m.
◾ Ward 3 – Thursday, Oct. 19, 6-8 p.m.
◾ Ward 4 – Thursday, Nov.9, 6-8 p.m.
“What we’re hoping to achieve in all the meetings is to identify our ideas for the future. Then prioritize those into a plan and set some goals,” she said, all culminating in a 10-year playbook.
“I was very, very pleased with the results of this because the two groups were really well aligned but they’re different,” she said. “One of the top priorities that came out from both groups is that they felt like the citizens are unengaged and they need to do a better job of getting that citizen engagement.”
Thomas has said his dream is to create a legacy that will withstand the test of time, one that future generations will inherit and be proud of.