Community development director calls on aldermen for planning position

Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud makes the case for a city planning position.

New Albany Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud challenged aldermen to take positive action toward implementing the city’s new comprehensive plan Tuesday. She asked that they create a position specifically for the purpose.

The city has commissioned a couple of comprehensive plans over the past quarter century but never made a concerted effort to implement them.

Parts of the earlier plan have done but there has not been anyone designated to tackle the project as a whole. Possibly that was because the plan was so comprehensive that it was difficult to know where to start.

The idea of having a city planner has come up for discussion from time to time with mixed support and opposition, perhaps because the scope of the job may not have been clear.

Stroud decided to call for action at Tuesday’s August meeting of New Albany aldermen.

“After much thought and research and consideration I wanted to let you know that during the next few months I would be making several recommendations for a focus group task force to review and strategize for the implementation of our comprehensive plan that our city has invested in,” she said.

While some parts of the earlier 1996 plan have been implemented over the years, the city has not designated anyone specifically for that task. That remains true for the new plan recently adopted.

“The most pressing at the moment is the community development planning division,” she said. “I don’t have the training or experience to implement the recently adopted city plan, nor do I have the skill set.”

“In the next few days I am going to submit a proposal and a budget to create a new position for this department along with a job description and I am asking that after you review this proposal you will fund this most-needed position,” she said.

“In addition, I will be looking at ways to tackle the ever-present maintenance issues of our tourism attractions as well as planning for the aging population of this community when we become a retirement community,” she said.

Stroud reminded everyone that the legislation that created New Albany’s two-percent tourism tax is also designated for “both tourism and economic development and to encourage retirees to remain in or relocate to the New Albany area.” That aspect of the tax has rarely been mentioned since its inception.

“I personally see no reason why this request cannot be funded since we are growing, our city and our community is becoming a tourism destination,” she said. “We need a plan for future growth that has been predicted by several people and we are actually seeing with our own eyes.”

Stroud said the position is still in the development stage but the person would have functions as city planner as well as possibly taking on some related tasks other city departments have had to deal with, even though they were not within their stated job descriptions.

“Two years of my sweat equity and planning have gone into this plan with countless conference calls, hours of community meetings and I will do whatever I can to make sure this plan is implemented,” she said. “All I can do to you is to suggest what needs to be done.”

“The rest falls on you,” she told the five aldermen.

 

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