The Lancaster County Council had a nearly four-hour workshop recently trying to carve out a new strategic plan and vision statement for the future.
The Wednesday, March 15, meeting was with Jason Gray, managing principal with Willdan Consultants, at the Lancaster County Administration Building, where they went over visions and goals for the county.
The county is hosting focus groups and an online survey at the county website (see related story) to get feedback from the public on what they think should be the focus as the county moves toward the future.
“What we are looking for is trends,” Gray said. “It is intended to help us gain insight and the direction the county needs to go.”
The survey will be on the website through the end of April and Gray is hoping up to 5% of the county responds.
“We are trying to get a broad reach,” he said. “We want to make it easy for people to respond.”
Creating a vision
Unlike a comprehensive plan that usually has a date on it of where you would like to be by a certain year, the strategic plan is more open-ended.
The current vision statement reads, “The vision for Lancaster County is to be a great place to live, learn, work, worship, play and raise a family.”
However, the council is now looking at updating that statement since it’s been years since it was created.
Gray said the statement can be more than just a one- sentence phrase; it can be more in-depth.
“The vision should be something that last for generations,” he said. “Generationally speaking, where do you want to be?”
The council also looked at core values and its core purpose.
“When you look at our vision statement, it is very objective,” said Councilman Brian Carnes.
Before the meeting, Gray met with council members individually to find out what some of the top council initiatives are for the county to look at.
Those top initiatives turned out to be public safety, infrastructure, funding/revenue, quality growth and county workforce.
“From a newborn baby to a 100-year-old man, everybody is gonna need public safety,” said Councilman Billy Mosteller.
Gray said he plans to have a draft of a new vision statement and strategic framework by July, with the hope that they are adopted by August.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
Council members also looked at the county’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Some of the strengths they listed to build on were public safety, partnerships, diversity, location, credit ranking and county staff/workforce.
Some of the weaknesses council identified were indecision, unplanned rapid growth, planning standards, infrastructure funding and not listening to the community’s needs.
“It all goes back to needing better planning,” Carnes said.
Opportunities council members identified as potential strengths were tourism, schools, recreation, airport enhancements, infrastructure funding and improvements, growth in the southern part of the county and access to the Catawba River.
Threats that were identified that could derail progress in the county included lack of funding, recession, stalled developments, lack of planning and high-density developments.