As the election results settle, the time has come for the work to begin for the new Lawrence City Council. Surely upon the horizon will be many tough decisions, votes and important issues to tackle.
Among the many pieces of advice I give to all my colleagues is to stay true to yourself and, most importantly, to the voters that elected you.
One of the top agenda items for the up-coming City Council will be a decision to bond for a new Lawrence Police Station. The current station is a building that would pro-bably not gain an occupancy permit if the issue were ever pressed. The conditions that our men and women work are inhumane to say the least. The work over the years by Chief Romero and his team has shown the commitment that these officers make to the city of Lawrence each and every day.
In the months ahead the city officials will hopefully make the same type of commit-ment by putting forth a spending plan for a state of the art operational facility. Though the debate may rage on about the amount to spend, the location to build, or the type of brick to use, the end result should prove to be a historic move for all of us.
A second agenda item certainly to top the minds of all councilors will be the ongoing budget issues facing our city.
It will be a test for all of us involved to try and tighten the belt in city government. The city officials will need to look at possible downsizing, mergers, increased fees and creative ways to make up the deficit this year and in the future.
The Mayor and his finance team will be charged with a daunting task as they recommend new ways to balance the future budgets of our city. In the end, the encounter will be a tough one; however, I believe the city will become stronger and wiser financially.
A third agenda item will be the sale of vacant lots. In the past, properties lingered in land court for years with back taxes piling up. Currently our legal department is working diligently to secure these properties, making them city owned. With this comes the responsibility of disposing the land for future re-use. The city council, mayor, planning and zoning board, along with the various neighborhood groups need to work together to find a solution to these vacant lots throughout the city.
Perhaps some lots will be sold to abutters for side-yard, others to developers for new homes and the remaining maybe will be used for off-street parking or community gardens. Whatever the plan, the city officials will need to act quickly and efficiently to provide the best possible use keeping the integrity of our neighborhoods in tact.
Without a doubt, the city council will have its hands full in the upcoming months; however, that is the very challenge that we will all swear to take during the inauguration ceremony on January 3, 2006. Until then we can converse, plan, and map out the future of our city. By working together the agenda will truly represent the peoples wishes.
Holidays to all!
Patrick Blanchette is president of the Lawrence City Council and was just elected to his fourth term representing District "A" (Prospect Hill). Blanchette is a Democrat and a member of the Lawrence Democrat City Committee. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Send your questions
comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com