The 2015 city district meetings were some of the highest attended ever and city officials are hoping for an encore performance. Not contending with the most frigid of winter conditions could certainly help.
“The district meetings are up and coming,” City manager Shawn Purvis said at the recent Council meeting. “We did move them from early in the year. It was kind of chilly in the fire station (where two district meetings are held) in February, plus we were running into snow the last few years. We’re going with March and April this year so it still coincides with budget time and we can get a lot of great feedback.”
The City Council established the meetings over a decade ago to provide citizens the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Council representatives and city staff in all five Clinton districts. At each meeting, the city manager, city staff and department heads review accomplishments and give project updates, answer questions, address concerns and receive feedback.
That chance will present itself yet again when the city’s decision-makers come into neighborhoods in March and April as part of the annual series of meetings.
“We look forward to these meetings each year because we always receive great feedback and suggestions from our citizens,” Mayor Lew Starling has said.
The goal is simple: open up lines of communication between citizens and City Hall and keep them open. Meetings are held at convenient locations for each district in order to encourage attendance.
“These meetings allow citizens to meet with the mayor, City Council members and city staff to share ideas, concerns and comments as well as receive information about city projects and programs,” Purvis said. “We hold the meetings throughout the city at convenient locations for citizens to attend.”
All meetings will be on Thursdays this year, and they will be held a little later in 2016.
This year, the meetings will start with District 4 on Thursday, March 10, at Bellamy Center. The District 3 meeting will be next a week later on Thursday, March 17, at the City Hall Auditorium. District 2 will follow a week after that on Thursday, March 24, at the Beaman Street Fire Station, with Districts 1 and 5 rounding out the schedule in April — on Thursday, April 14, and Thursday, April 21, respectively. The District 1 meeting will take place at the Beaman Street Fire Station, the District 5 meeting at the Sampson Center.
Leading up to last year’s district meetings, Purvis said he believed that it would be “a great year,” as more was being done in the preceding weeks and months to promote a higher turnout. He proved correct, as 2015’s series of meetings proved some of the most-well attended to date.
While city staff and department heads can regularly be reached at their offices or at regular meetings, the district meetings a forum to have a number of people in the same room to hear specific issues affecting local neighborhoods, whether a zoning matter, police issue or another addressing the general quality of life.
By taking advantage of the forum, residents are not only looking out for their neighborhoods, but are helping departments do the same, city officials said.
“The meetings give us time to pass information along to the residents,” Purvis has noted. “They may have missed something from a regular Council meeting, or not seen an announcement in the paper, so the district meetings give us an opportunity to make sure we keep the community informed about upcoming events and projects.”
Those with questions about the meetings can call City Hall at 910-592-1961. To find out the district in which you reside, visit the City of Clinton’s website, at www.cityofclintonnc.com, click on “Mayor and City Council” and then “Electoral districts.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.