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Small-town feel key to Tosa's success

March 26, 2014

As city officials get closer to finalizing a new strategic plan, one of the main concerns of Wauwatosa residents is that the plan strike a balance between prioritizing future development and maintaining a small-town feel.

That sentiment was reflected in a summary of feedback from recent community briefings on the city's draft strategic plan, which City Administrator James Archambo presented during the Common Council's recent Committee of the Whole meeting.

"When I talk to people, I hear the same thing," Alderman Dennis McBride said. "What they usually say is, 'I understand the need for development, but we have to preserve our neighborhoods.' That's almost a direct quote, and it's the same thing said over and over and over again by the people."

The city held eight meetings with various community groups over the course of the last few months to solicit public comment about the draft strategic plan, as requested by the committee when it last discussed the plan in December. About 130 people participated in the feedback sessions, Archambo said, with about 60 of those completing comment sheets that included scoring the five main vision statement strategies outlined in the draft strategic plan.

City officials presented the plan to one Kiwanis group, two Rotary groups, a neighborhood association and a Shorewest Realtors group, in addition to holding town hall meetings in districts 3, 4 and 8. Although session participants skewed a bit older than the average, with slightly more members being male and holding bachelor's degrees when compared with the general Wauwatosa population, Archambo said he felt confident that responses were representative of the community.

"I think that you can move forward with reasonable confidence that you did go out to solicit input from various groups," Archambo said.

Although not a scientific sample, Archambo added that it is "reasonably representative" of what the city would likely hear from any community group, without spending a lot of time and money on the feedback process.

Overall, residents responded favorably in their comments, recognizing the importance of not only having a strategic plan in place but also the process of developing one, Archambo noted.

Resident ratings

On a scale of 1 to 5, participants' average rating of satisfaction with the major components of the plan was a 4.1, Archambo said.

As far as the five main vision strategies of the plan, residents rated preserving and maintaining essential services and infrastructure the highest, at a level between "very important" and "essential," and identifying opportunities to pursue greater influence in the region, state and nation the lowest, between "somewhat important" and "very important."

Each strategy was scored separately, not ranked in relation to the other strategies.

In response to the comments from the committee, Mayor Kathy Ehley said there did not appear to be any strong opposition to any items targeted in the plan.

"The biggest challenge we have going ahead with the general public is to get the information out to them," Ehley said, noting that session participants were eager for more details.

Residents also highlighted collaboration among city groups; improvements to roads, bridges, parking, bike trails and transportation; prioritization of parks and open space; and a focus on health and healthy people as areas they would like to see targeted in the strategic plan.

Dave Unmacht of Springsted, Inc., who has been facilitating the city's strategic planning efforts, provided the committee with a brief overview of the changes incorporated into the third draft of the plan.

He advised the group that the city has done its due diligence in gathering public feedback and is ready to move forward with endorsing the plan.

As next steps in the process, Archambo explained, the city will need to set specific goals under each vision and work through action steps for each of those, specifying who will do what, when and how implementation will be measured, for example.

No action was taken at the meeting, with the committee directing staff to work on developing the goals and action steps to bring back to the group for further discussion.

AT A GLANCE

■ View the third draft of Wauwatosa's strategic plan by visiting Wauwatosa.net and selecting "Meeting Portal" on the left side of the page. Then click the "Agenda Packet" link for the March 18 Committee of the Whole meeting under "Past Meetings."

BY THE NUMBERS

On a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 representing "not important" and 4 indicating "essential," residents participating in community feedback sessions rated the five vision statements of Wauwatosa's draft strategic plan.

3.5

Vision: A city with great services. Strategy: Preserve and maintain our essential services and infrastructure.

3.3

Vision: A community of choice. Strategy: Grow and expand on the qualities that make our community distinct and uniquely attractive.

3.3

Vision: The preferred location for conducting business. Strategy: Focus on business recruitment and effective growth management practices and policies.

3.1

Vision: An organization defined by excellence. Strategy: Implement efficient and effective service delivery models and customer service best practices.

2.7

Vision: Recognized regional, state and national leader. Strategy: Identify opportunities to pursue greater influence in the region, state and nation.

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