Revitalizing Shenandoah

During the Shenandoah City Council meeting on June 23, Margot Gee presented an update on the Shenandoah Community Forum for Revitalization group that she began organizing in January.

Gee said the mission of the forum is broad and still being developed. She said the forum will help promote, support, and sustain a community-wide vision and means for making Shenandoah an “even better place in which to live and work.”

She said the forum would inform, coordinate, and assist revitalization teams to be established to address the needs and priorities identified by the Greater Shenandoah Community. Some of the areas the forum will focus on will regard economic vitality, employment, and career development opportunities. The forum will also look at infrastructure and governmental services, public health, safety, recreation, and education. Housing and neighborhood beautification will also be a focal point along with the preparation of children for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.

“We really want to look broadly at how we can help revitalize Shenandoah,” said Gee.

Gee said it became clear that improvements needed to be made in Shenandoah. She said the idea of a forum started as conversations with other community members and has grown from there. She said it occurred to her that, although there were “a lot of good things happening” in Shenandoah, there were still some concerns going unnoticed.

Some of the more apparent concerns Gee mentioned are the empty storefronts and shabby houses in many neighborhoods. She said some concerns were more hidden, such as the population trending down.

Gee said the success of this organization will require commitment, vision, and community-wide participation. She said the forum is also about a process that is deliberative, based on the gathering of facts and being open to new ideas and options.

“For the process to work properly, it must have leaders who are unifying figures who can bring people together in a spirit of cooperation,” said Gee. “We believe we’ve come up with a workable process for thinking and working through how we improve the town.”

Gee said time will tell exactly what direction the forum will take depending on what the community communicates to the leadership team they want. She anticipates having some short term projects, but the goal is to make enduring changes.

Gee said the forum would be sending out a community needs assessment to determine what concerns the community at large would like to see addressed. She said the forum will look at how the community envisions Shenandoah and the quality of life here.

The forum also will take into consideration how they can make the community a better place for individuals shopping in Shenandoah or commuting here for work.

“We really want it to be a more welcoming town,” said Gee, “and we’re hoping that young people will decide that small-town life is great and that Shenandoah has a lot to offer.”

Gee said they are currently communicating with the community on their Shenandoah Community Forum for Revitalization Facebook page. She said they have been receiving positive feedback and are also working on building a website.

Gee said getting more people involved from the community will mean more ideas coming in.

“We’re looking for people at this point who want to be leaders and who will commit the time,” said Gee. “Of course, we want people who are going to put the overall benefit of the town before anything else.”

Gee said the organization that will guide and enable progress in Shenandoah is still being formed. She said the committee is “very loose” and consists of a small group of people that have been holding conversations via Zoom. Gee said the forum will continue to move forward and will eventually form a board of directors.

In other business, the council …

- Approved the plans, specifications, and form of contract for airport improvements consisting of a four-unit T-hangar construction and taxi lane for the Shenandoah Regional Airport.

- Approved the rates and salaries of full-time city employees for the 2021 fiscal year, and a union agreement from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2021.

- Approved the rates and salaries for part-time city employees for the 2020 fiscal year.

- Approved the rates and salaries for seasonal city employees at the Wilson Aquatic Center.

- Approved the corrected legal description of an out lot located between West Clarinda Avenue and South Center Street that was sold to Michael Churchill May 12.

- Authorized the city clerk to write a check on July 1 to Dickel Duit for $23,584 for the purchase of two Ferris mowers. One would be for the water department and the other for the park and recreation department.

The next regular scheduled city council meeting will be at 6 p.m., July 14.

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