A look ahead – Grass Valley officials plan for future regarding traffic, housing and community involvement | TheUnion.com

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A look ahead – Grass Valley officials plan for future regarding traffic, housing and community involvement

Grass Valley city officials met Wednesday afternoon to plan the city’s future – or at least plot out the next two years of it.

The meeting was the annual goal-setting session of the City Council and was attended by the five members of the council, the police and fire department chiefs, and several department heads.

No votes took place and no action was taken on any of the issues addressed, but it was clear that most of the city’s priorities fall into the realms of traffic, development and growth and soliciting community feedback, as follows:

• Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout said she was displeased with the way the Richardson and Bennett streets intersection project turned out and that future multimillion projects currently on the table need more study.

• More street lights near downtown and lower speed limits citywide were two things Vice Mayor Mark Johnson said he would like to see to help ease increasing traffic. “Speed is a particular factor that is degrading our town,” he said.

• Councilman Dean Williams said he would like to see the city “revisit” the two-second rule, a rule based on traffic patterns that helps planners determine where development can occur. He also said he would like to see plans to develop the East Main Street and Nevada City Highway corridor into a “thematic” boulevard linking the two cities.

• Other concerns were to keep work-force housing a priority, hire new staff members to tackle redevelopment issues and ensure fire and police keep up with the growing community.

But for many, the concerns were rooted in the need to establish better ways to solicit feedback and involvement from the public – something that has not always been so easy, many admitted.

“I think it is important for us to know what the citizens want,” said Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout, adding that during her nine years on the Planning Commission, there was often a disconnect between understanding what the City Council’s directives and goals meant when making decisions that affected residents’ lives.

Councilwoman Patti Ingram said that sometimes it has been tough to get residents to tune in, saying that in the past she has gone out into the community to talk to residents and “sometimes I thought the individual I was talking to was living under a rock,” because he or she was unaware of what the city was already doing to address an issue.

The city officials said they recognized that not all goals are financially realistic and acknowledged the need to constantly re-address goals set for this year throughout the six-month budget process that ends mid-summer.