One Kingsport advisory committee in the works

Matthew Lane • Jul 19, 2016 at 9:30 PM

KINGSPORT — The next step in the One Kingsport movement will be for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to create an 11-member advisory committee charged with developing the metrics for the individual projects and to further refine the projects for implementation.

An overview of this process was discussed during a BMA work session Monday afternoon.

According to the proposed guidelines crafted by city planning staff, the names of nine committee members will be suggested by the One Kingsport work groups. The two remaining members — chair and vice chair — will be selected by Mayor John Clark.

Development Services Director Lynn Tully said the mayor could choose from work group participants or anyone else from the community. The work groups have made their suggestions, though the list of names was not presented to the BMA on Monday.

Tully said not every person on that list had been notified about their selection. The BMA will have the final say on who serves on the committee.

“At the end of the day, we’re working to create more demand for our city, to attract more residents and businesses to our city. That’s the goal,” Clark said. “If we can’t do that, our population and tax base will start declining.

“I think we’re making good progress, and One Kingsport is about making more progress.”

The One Kingsport movement is essentially a five-year road map for the Model City, born out of a two-day summit held last fall. Nearly 200 volunteers worked for months brainstorming and refining “big ideas,” policy changes and capital projects to recommend to the BMA, which they did back in March.

Though the five-year One Kingsport plan includes more than 100 ideas, city officials and the BMA are focusing on first-year recommendations: beautification and streetscape improvements, upgrades to Bays Mountain Park, establishing neighborhood commissions and starting the process of creating a large outdoor venue and maker space downtown.

To generate revenue for One Kingsport projects, the BMA approved an $8 per month sanitation fee in June, a move that will free up approximately $2.4 million in the general fund.

The next step, Tully told the BMA, is to create an advisory committee, a group that will provide accountability for One Kingsport projects with members also working to promote the various projects to the citizens.

Tully said each of the seven work groups suggested people to serve on the new advisory panel. A list of the names was not provided to the BMA on Monday, as not every person has been formally asked to serve.

Each member would serve a four-year term and meet quarterly to discuss the progress of One Kingsport and develop metrics and a report card for each project. Tully said there likely would be some subcommittees created to focus on some specific ideas.

The term of service would also be staggered to prevent every member from rolling off the committee at once.

“Each project on the list will have someone on the group assigned to it, to be its champion, receive public input and bring back to the full group,” Tully said. “Every year the projects will be recommended by the advisory committee, and no projects will be added, taken away or changed throughout the year without BMA approval.”

As proposed, the BMA would create the advisory committee and appoint its members at its Aug. 16 meeting.

Alderman Tommy Olterman raised a question about how the members were selected, suggesting invitations should be extended to some of the leaders in Colonial Heights.

“I think we need to include people who may not have participated in One Kingsport and very much want to,” Olterman said. “I think we’re going to get the same type of talk in the community that we’ve had off of the garbage tax.”

City officials noted that the advisory committee meetings would be open to the public and anyone could attend. Clark said if someone comes into the advisory committee from the outside, then that person would have to be brought up to speed.

“From a fairness perspective, several hundred people spent a lot of time in this process and are anxious to move forward,” Clark said. “I think what the challenge is to balance public input versus what is practical. Somehow we need to provide public input for the future direction of the city, but at the end of the day we can only do that with the funding that is available, and that’s controlled by the BMA.”

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