Springfield city commissioners discussed several goals to improve the city this year, including a study of the local housing stock and repairing neighborhood streets.
The commission discussed its priorities for this year as part of its annual retreat held Friday night and Saturday morning at the National Trail Parks and Recreation District’s administration building.
The city may perform a comprehensive analysis of housing stock later this year to help attract more people to live in the city, commissioners said. The Chamber of Greater Springfield may help pay for the study, Commissioner David Estrop said.
“It’s time for action,” he said.
The city will also examine creating more green space and demolishing abandoned homes, Mayor Warren Copeland said. There will be different strategies based on the nature of the neighborhood, he said.
“I think that makes sense,” Copeland said.
The efforts could come in several different forms, including infrastructure incentives for developers and other incentives for people looking to remodel current homes or build new homes, Estrop said.
“Our population is shrinking and our tax base is shrinking,” he said. “We’re on a course of trajectory that’s not a very positive one. To turn that around, we’ve got to do something very dramatic.”
The efforts to bring more housing to downtown could also lead to more jobs and retail, Estrop said.
Once the housing study is complete, the city may begin a strategic plan in 2019, Copeland said.
Springfield will spend about $2 million this year to pave neighborhood streets pledged as part of a recent income tax increase, Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.
The city will move forward with paving certain streets this year and next year based on condition and future utility projects. Commissioners asked staff to educate the public on why those streets were chosen to be repaired and receive feedback about what streets should be completed in 2020 and beyond. The city could host meetings about streets in the four different quadrants of the city later this year, Copeland said.
The city must also focus on developing the South Limestone Street corridor, Commissioner Rob Rue said, including working with property owners to clean up homes and developments.
Springfield will also work with county officials to continue the discussion about a combined dispatching operation, Bodenmiller said. The city must also collaborate with local business leaders and educators to improve the city’s workforce.
City staff will also work to fill vacancies at the police, fire and service departments, Bodenmiller said.
Commissioner Kevin O’Neill did not attend the retreat due to an illness, he said.
The retreat was facilitated by local consultant Mel Marsh.
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