2017-10-25 / News

Planning commission reports goals to town officials

by Trish Rudder

Town of Bath Planning Commission president Rebecca MacLeod and vice president Larry Lower presented recommendations to the town council on October 17 on how to best reach goals for the town’s comprehensive plan.

The 10-year comprehensive plan that was finalized in May has more than 70 strategies, and the planning commission is concentrating first on four main goals, Lower said.

Each goal has objectives and strategies and a planning approach is needed.

“There are people within the community that will help the council to strategize,” Lower said.

The highest goal is to identify and expand conditions and opportunities to improve economic development in the town.

Finding and applying for economic development grants was suggested, and another strategy was to develop a community/business fiveyear plan to increase sustainable economic growth in town.

The second goal is to develop a framework of actions to insure community safety, health and welfare.

One strategy already underway to control illegal drugs and substance abuse is to work with other local organizations and regional and statewide entities to enhance programs already in place and develop additional measures.

This item is critical not only for health and safety, but to support economic development in the community, the Planning Commission report said.

The third goal is to examine public services and facilities provided by the town to fulfill the needs of residents and non-residents.

One step toward this goal is to inventory, evaluate and provide information about social and cultural services for town residents.

“The town cannot solve everything. Work with the county,” Lower said.

Another step would be to improve and protect the quality of existing housing for residents and for visitors by maximizing the use of existing properties.

Building upon the Bad to Better Buildings initiative that is already underway will help reach this goal, the commission report said.

The fourth goal is to enhance the town while maintaining a sense of place.

It was suggested that the town’s finance and grant committees identify funding to help reach this goal. Also, explore community development grant opportunities by examining what other similar municipalities have done.

“It doesn’t hurt to steal ideas,” Lower said.

MacLeod suggested the town and the commission brainstorm together after January 1 through a workshop to discuss comprehensive plan goals and ways to improve and enhance all those things already in place.

Mayor Scott Merki said he wants the council to work with the planning commission to figure out where to begin.

Town Recorder Susan Webster suggested meeting with organizations such as the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Starting Points and Life or Drugs Tri-State Support to hear their views because of the drug and opioid crisis.

Merki said people cannot keep a job because they cannot pass a drug test. “Opioid use has hit our community hard and it’s a bad epidemic in West Virginia.”

Councilman Chris Chapman said the council needs to work together with the planning commission as MacLeod suggested after January 1.

“Between now and then,” Merki said, “we can see what we can do.”

Chapman said the council members have committee areas already. “We have a structure,” he said.

“Now we can start thinking about those areas,” Merki added.

The planning commission’s next meeting is on Thursday, November 2 at 4:30 p.m. at town hall.

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