BOWIE – No one can see the future, but the Bowie City Council is doing what it can to shape the future of its city. At its July 5 meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve a new strategic plan to guide the city for the next four years. It lays the groundwork for achieving […]
BOWIE – No one can see the future, but the Bowie City Council is doing what it can to shape the future of its city.
At its July 5 meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve a new strategic plan to guide the city for the next four years. It lays the groundwork for achieving longer-term goals by putting the city’s priorities in one place and listing a number of outcomes by which progress will be measured.
“What this plan does is put in motion certain activities to kind of guarantee that we look at the infrastructure, we look at financing, we look at recreation, we look at all the component parts that make the city as strong and viable as it is, and maintain them so we can continue to build on the plateau we’ve built so far,” Mayor G. Frederick Robinson said.
Although the plan was passed unanimously, some members of the council did express concerns about how the strategic plan information was being sent out. The full text of the plan is available on the city website, but District 4 Councilman Isaac Trouth – echoing concerns raised by Councilman Michael Esteve earlier in the evening – said he wanted additional methods of communication used, such as the city’s newsletter.
“What I’m concerned about is the fact that our seniors really need to have another vehicle other than just the website,” Trouth said.
Acting City Manager John Fitzwater said information would be included in the newsletter.
Bowie’s previous plan was approved back in 2005, so Fitzwater said it was a good use of the council’s time to devise this new one.
The plan identifies six strategic goals and a number of outcomes that will be used to determine the city’s progress toward reaching them.
The number one goal is investing in public infrastructure, and outcomes include assessing water pipes and developing a plan to address needs; collaborating with state and county government on infrastructure improvements, including widening Route 197; and adding bike lanes and walking paths to more city-maintained roads.
Goal number two is to promote economic development, as measured by increased tax base, a more diversified business base and progress toward redeveloping aging shopping centers.
This will also help with ensuring the city’s long-term financial stability, another goal outlined in the plan. The city plans to maintain its AAA bond rating, conduct cost analyses and pursue state, federal and other grant opportunities for funding its priority projects and initiatives.
The city also wants to continue to reliably deliver core services. This includes constructing an indoor sports complex, making wider use of technology to communicate and deliver services and assessing solid waste options to better manage costs. The plan includes the consideration of adopting one-day-a-week trash collection, which Prince George’s County adopted this May to mixed reviews.
In the area of public safety, the goal is to maintain and enhance services, including emergency services, through strategies such as improving awareness of crime statistics, updating the city’s emergency management plan and pursing a Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies certification for the police department.
The final goal laid out in the plan is supporting the city in growth that is “compatible with Bowie’s history and values and supports a successful future.” Outcomes under this heading include paying attention to parks and other green open spaces, expanding housing options and considering the annexation of areas that could provide “beneficial growth opportunities.”
The goals were determined based on feedback from citizens (through two meetings and a survey available on the city website) and input from the council over the seven month process. The city also worked with consultant Christine Becker.
“It is also important to indicate that the strategic goals and objectives were based on program areas where the city has direct control and primary responsibility for an item,” Fitzwater said.
He said quality schools were a high priority for the council, but because the primary responsibility for schools falls on Prince George’s County, schools were not included in the strategic plan.
Still, city officials believe it will be helpful in guiding the city moving forward, particularly during the budget process.
“The city budget will be the primary mechanism by which the strategic goals and objectives are achieved,” Fitzwater said.
Robinson added, “It’s kind of a guide for us. It puts into one single document what our plan of action is. It tells everybody not only we’re excited about the future, we’re ready and anxious to embrace the future.”