Anderson City Council members, the Parks and Recreation Commission and Anderson Planning Commission members came together with other city officials in a public meeting Monday night to discuss what the future holds for the town.
Many seemed to agree on what they want for the city of Anderson, but all had different ideas on how to get to that end result. City manager Jeff Kiser led the session with proposing ideas of how to intrigue businesses into wanting to come set up shop in Anderson.
He noted that the city has three unique things that can make it stand out; a river, Anderson River Park and having two major routes of transportation running through the town. However, the question is how to capitalize on those assets, Kiser said.
“We need to remember that we have a sign that says ‘city of opportunity,’” Kiser said. “That’s what we need to be.”
Planning Commissioner Christine Haggard originally proposed the idea to get the different city officials together a couple times a year to ensure that everyone was sharing the same vision for Anderson, since the different groups are often separated in meetings when making decisions.
“We have struggled working towards one single vision,” Haggard said. “It would be very beneficial for city and the community if we could come together and agree on some common goals.”
During the three hour discussion ideas for bringing in developers, expanding roadways and marketing Anderson were all discussed. Ideas to allow easier transportation through town arose discussions of possibly expanding Auto Mall Drive to North Street, continuing Gateway Drive to Deschutes Road and creating a more simplified interchange from the Riverside Road off-ramp.
“Let’s talk big picture,” Kiser said. “Let’s talk vision. Let’s talk about where we ultimately want to be.”
Many of the ideas brought up were to create discussion and to plant the seed. All of them will take time and require extensive studies, work and of course funding, he said.
All of the officials were enthusiastic about Anderson River Park, relying on the park to bring in visitors. Ways of staying more on top of maintenance issues, adding a designated wedding venue and creating more equestrian trails were discussed.
However, many noted that people driving by on Interstate-5 have no notification that such a “gem” of a park exists in the city. There are hardly any signs along the freeway informing drivers of why they should stop in Anderson, besides them seeing the fast food restaurants and a few stores, official’s agreed.
Another talking point was about the organization of city buildings. Many agreed that the police department needs to be completely redone and put in a different location.
However, for the Chief of Police Michael Johnson his main vision is to ensure safety for the town and community while keeping a professional department.
“Despite what has gone on in the past, good or bad, it doesn’t really matter anymore,” Johnson said. “What matters is keeping the community safe. We need to make people feel safe then they will want to live here and have their businesses here.”
The City Council‘s next meeting will be March 5, the Planning Commission’s on March 11, and the Parks & Recreation Commission on March 27.