The Board of Leon County Commissioners held their annual retreat on Monday at the Goodwood Museum and Gardens.
This years retreat was focused on Leon County’s efforts to build social infrastructure, reviewing progress towards the County’s five -year targets, and updating the current strategic plan.
Social infrastructure is comprised of the spaces, places, and other local resources that foster relationships and promote interaction among diverse groups of citizens. County manager Vince Long told the commissioners that local examples of social infrastructure included libraries, community gardens and Cascades Park.
The morning session of the retreat included a presentation and discussion with Dr.Eric Klinenberg, a Professor of Sociology at New York University, Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge.
Dr. Klinenberg discussed how physical spaces and organizations can shape the way people interact, prevent crime, reduce addiction rates, contribute to economic growth, and even ameliorate problems caused by climate change.
The afternoon part of the retreat was largely devoted to the elected officials proposing initiatives or action items for the coming year.
Newly elected Commissioner Rick Minor, based on what he heard during his campaign, encouraged staff to find additional ways for citizens to have meaningful engagement with county government.
Minor also recommended adding information at boat landings about current water quality and fishing advisories and raised the issue of developing an emergency notification system for private pre-schools so that parents had a reliable source for information during a crisis.
Commissioner Kristen Dozier echoed concerns about water quality and discussed ways to expand the use of libraries. She also brought up concerns about the process that awards art and culture grants given the growing impact of tourism on the local economy. Other elected officials were also concerned with the process.
Commissioner Maddox wanted the parameters of social infrastructure to be integrated with the comprehensive land use update. He also requested an evaluation of the effectiveness of the re-entry program for citizens returning to the community after serving their prison sentences and wanted to be supportive of Mark Early, the Supervisor of Elections, in his efforts to implement the recently passed state constitutional amendment to restore felon voting rights.
His final request was to enhance the relationship with Career Source to increase job opportunities for veterans.
Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley discussed her interest in promoting solar by identifying and eliminating barriers to private sector development of solar. She also wanted to pursue a SolSmart designation which recognizes communities that make it easy to use solar.
Lindley also discussed the workforce training of people for jobs using heavy equipment.
Commissioner Bryan Desloge advocated for mapping bike routes and assessing total miles of bike routes as a way to promote the community. Desloge also spoke about an alternate financing instrument for government activities called social impact bonds.
The final speaker, Chairman Jimbo Jackson, wanted staff to pursue an emergency management plan for water release at the hydroelectric generating station on Lake Talquin. Jackson spoke about the flooding issues in the area that become evident after recent weather events.