Council drafts a new vision statement

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Strategic planning session also produces 10 statement goals

By Kirsten Laskey

The Los Alamos County Council produced a new vision statement after conducting a three-day strategic planning workshop.
Los Alamos County Council, county staff, the public and Facilitator Carl Neu met Monday through Wednesday at the Pajarito Cliffs site for strategic planning sessions.
During the work sessions, it was agreed a new vision statement needed to be addressed. The draft statement is: “Los Alamos is a world-renowned community where discovery and innovation are inspired by its dramatic history and magnificent mountain setting. We offer extraordinary educational, recreational and cultural opportunities in a vibrant small town atmosphere.”
The previous vision statement, adopted in March 2002, contained 14 different points, which ranged from engage citizenship and diversify the economy to protect the environment and enhance youth activities.
Council Chair Sharon Stover said former Councilor Robert Gibson suggested council revise the previous statement during a special meeting on Aug. 31 but council voted against it.
However, Stover said, “This is a new council … we felt the vision statement and comprehensive plan might be more effective if it was captured in a few words … to guide the county’s future.”
Also, “I think one thing we need to do is always check in and see how we are doing on our vision, our strategic plan,” she said.
If the two statements are compared, she added, the sentiment has not changed. The draft vision statement will be shared with the community along with the county boards and commissions. Stover emphasized it is not finalized.
“Our vision statement is how you want your community to be in the next 20 years,” Stover said.
To create the statement, Stover said the councilors and the county staff had to draw what they would like the community to appear as in 20 years. Using every color of magic marker available, Stover said they could not use words in their depictions.
Afterwards, everyone described what their vision was and gaps were identified in what everyone wanted.
In addition to forming a vision statement, the council drafted 10 statement goals including:
• Create a communication process that provides measurable improvement in citizen trust in government.
• Develop “one stop shopping” for all building permit related requirements.
• Invest in staff and their development and create a high performing organization.
• Eliminate downtown blight.
• Adopt a comprehensive plan, including land use ordinances, with design/architectural components clearly identifying individual parcels by use.
• Market and brand Los Alamos as a recreational destination emphasizing scenery over science and adrenaline over academics.
• Create a Los Alamos K-20 education continuum that ranks in the top 100 of schools in the nation at all levels.
• Implement a comprehensive recreational and cultural master plan.
• Promote a strong and diverse economic base through recruiting businesses and encouraging new business growth.
• Implement a strategy that results in 100 percent growth in retail activity.
Again, Stover said these are just draft goal statements and they will be shared with the community. She added the previous goals have not been scrapped.
For example, a previous goal of advocating for Los Alamos National Laboratory will continue to be addressed.
“We want to ensure that nothing gets lost,” Stover said. “Even though we have introduced new goal statements for consideration that tie into the vision.”
As chair, Stover said a personal goal is “to establish and affirm the strategic plan and guide the initial implementation steps towards success.”
The next step toward implementation is the county staff will develop a management action plan (MAP) for each goal.
The MAP would suggest the objectives and implementation steps to achieve each one, along with the necessary resources such as staff, timeline and budget.
Each MAP will go back to council for discussion. Also, the MAPs would be balanced against the previous MAP to determine whether the former goal should be kept or eliminated.
To successfully follow the vision statement and achieve the goal statements, Neu suggests, “Say what you are going to do; prepare to do it; do it; evaluate that performance and repeat the process.”