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South Valley Journal

Riverton reveals top eight priorities for next four years

Apr 09, 2018 05:08PM ● By Mariden Williams

Riverton City officials have laid out a clear game plan for the coming years. (Mariden Williams)

In his 2018 State of the City Address, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs proclaimed the city to be “strong, prosperous and growing,” and also announced eight strategic priorities that he and other city officials will focus on in the years ahead. These priorities were developed from community feedback received at the city’s annual all-day Strategic Planning Session back on Jan. 13. 

 “These strategic priorities will be the focus over the next four years in setting budget and policy,” Staggs said. “Select elected officials and staff members alike have been designated champions for each one of these and will work collaboratively to identify key objectives and initiatives that will help us accomplish them.” 

 The eight strategic priorities, and the elected officials assigned to each, are as follows:

1. Safe and healthy neighborhoods with balanced opportunities to live, work and play (Tricia Tingey and Brent Johnson)

2. Promoting a thriving business climate that supports residents’ needs (Sheldon Stewart and Staggs)

3. A welcoming historic downtown destination (Tish Buroker and Staggs)

4. Vibrant parks, recreation and events that build bridges within the community (Tingey and Stewart)

5. A well-connected community with properly maintained utilities and infrastructure (Brent Johnson) 

6. Highly engaged and informed residents (Tawnee McCay, Stewart and Staggs) 

7. Operational excellence (Buroker and Stewart)

8. Fiscally responsible governance (McCay and Staggs)

 City staff and elected officials are, in the more casual work sessions preceding each city council meeting, brainstorming ways to turn these abstract goals into tangible realities. Discussion at the March 6 work session focused primarily on the first four priorities, with discussion on the others slated for March 27. 

Currently, ideas for improving neighborhood safety mostly center around making sure residents are aware of the resources available to them, in things such as Community Emergency Response Team training, prescription drug disposal and the Healthy Riverton program.

On promoting a thriving business climate, Staggs said that the first goal is to “retain, expand and attract a mix of high-quality employers and commercial businesses that contribute to the community’s economic sustainability.” It’s easy for statements like this to amount to empty words, since success in such abstract concepts can be hard to gauge, but city officials are working to come up with real, physical ways to measure their progress.

 “Square footage of currently built versus currently occupied commercial property could be one yardstick,” said Staggs. Other potential measuring methods city leaders are considering include the amount of sales and franchise tax revenue generated, as well as number of employees by industry.

Another step toward drawing and retaining a greater number and variety of businesses, Stewart suggested, might be identifying any “dark holes” in data and cellular networks that might deter businesses from settling into certain locations. 

“We might have black holes in our city that businesses might not want to locate to because there is not that data and support and connectivity,” Stewart said.

Stewart also proposed incentivizing tenants to furnish existing locations to better fit their needs, citing the example of a particular shopping center he knows in Wilmington, Delaware, that “just didn’t take off… [until] the city offered $2 per square foot of tenant improvements with a 10-year lease.”

The creation of a welcoming historic downtown location should also improve things on the business front, since one area of focus is on making things more pedestrian-friendly and thus more appealing to walk-in stores and restaurateurs. Additionally, Councilmember Tish Buroker would like to see more aesthetic cohesion throughout the downtown area, noting that various design elements have been tried out, but incorporated very haphazardly. 

“It’d be great if we could really build on what’s already been done and figure out how to make it all work well together,” she said.

As far as city events and recreation go, Riverton’s dilemma is perhaps a little bit unusual. 

“I don’t know that our issue is that we don’t have active participation at events,” Buroker said. “I almost think our issue is the opposite—that at many times we are unable to allow all the people that want to, to participate.” 

Events such as the city’s daddy/daughter Valentine’s date, Easter egg hunts and Fourth of July shows often have to turn people away. 

“Our issue is the other end: not to get more people to come but figuring out how to manage all the people that do come,” Buroker said.