Purdy mayor calls for 90-day plan

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Areas outlined for more community involvement by city

Bo Prock, at his first meeting as the new mayor of Purdy, proposed undertaking new initiatives that paved the way for more active involvement in the community by city leaders.

Prock presented aldermen with a 90-day Plan of Action with seven identified points of focus. He observed his proposals did not call for budget changes.

“I want to see something done,” Prock said. “I don’t believe the people of Purdy have elected a pay-the-bills-and-go-home council.”

He asked for general discussion and additional ideas, recognizing such a strategy had not been proposed in Purdy before.

On personnel, Prock asked for the development of job descriptions and the introduction of key performance indicators to measure expectations. He noted there have been past disagreements over what certain employees were expected to do, and at times, aldermen discovered “nobody does that.”

Council members, Prock noted, have focused more in recent years on what police do. He wanted to hear from officers on what they felt needed to be done in town, and to provide clearer direction on those questions. In his opinion, Russ Nichols, acting as building inspector, had been held back in his duties, only responding to situations that represented a hazard.

“I’m not sure that’s a good thing,” Prock said. “He may want to do things that aren’t being done. If so, we need to let the inspector do his job.”

Secondly, Prock wanted aldermen to take another look at the Purdy Community Building and its use as a community center and as a location for the Purdy library branch. It was noted that the city has no lease with the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library and rents of the community center bring in only around $12,000 a year. In contrast, the city spent around $50,000 on the parking lot and roof in the last three years.

In his opinion, Prock thought the library would have more traffic if it relocated over into the shopping center, next to the grocery store. While he liked the community center, Prock thought owning it represented a much bigger expense to the city than other properties.

Thirdly, Prock wanted to see more town involvement. He recommended the city council have a booth at this year’s Purdy Festival. While it might become a forum for hearing complaints, he felt the public would respect the effort. He also suggested undertaking a survey to document what residents would like to see done in town.

Prock suggested opening dialogue with the Purdy Special Road District commissioners about their involvement in the city, saying much of the district’s tax revenues come from city residents who have historically seen little for their investment.

A request had been received from the school district to repaint the fire hydrants from the County Corner to the ball fields along Highway C, painting them all school colors of gold and black. As long as the colors were reflective, he thought the idea had merit.

Prock also wanted the city to have a greater presence on social media. City Clerk Debbie Redshaw noted most of the “likes” on the city’s Facebook page have come from out-of-town residents. Prock recommended putting weekly updates online. He viewed that as a potentially far more effective way to reach the public with information than through notes with utility bills, which he admitted he generally ignored. When police post videos, they receive greater notice, and he saw no reason why others in the city could not follow suit.

Lastly, Prock proposed developing a number of new city improvements. He wanted to see a master map of the town with overlays identifying utilities, hydrants, ditches and mowing areas that could be studied and improved. The road district, for example, could help recut ditches to stop stormwater pools from developing. He suggested holding public meetings to stimulate discussion on specific areas.

“I want to see a 5-, 10- and 20-year plan for the city,” Prock said. “I don’t think we’ve actually had one. It’s imperative if we want to see Purdy not become a ghost town in 30 years to have long-term plans. We can look back and see progress.

“I think all the employees and the council want to stick their nose in the True North direction and head that way. As the new mayor, you guys have my support 100 percent in trying to get something started here.”

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