The uproar over the sale of excess city-owned properties obviously impacted council goal-setting for Astoria for 2014. During a discussion about the goals set by the city council in a day-long session Monday, Mayor Willis Van Dusen told the audience at Tuesday's crowded council meeting that selling those properties is no longer a city goal. Other than about seven or eight properties currently in price negotiations the city will not seek to sell anymore which ends an agressive marketing campaign. " If we can't come to an agreement on the price for those properties, we will end the negotiations.", Said Van Dusen.
At a previous city council meeting a petition was presented to the council by concerned citizens with nine pages of signatures attached asking that the process be stopped and a town hall meeting be called before any more sales efforts take place. The council listened, going a step further by simply halting the process.
The sixteen goals that were formulated during Monday's work session also reflect an increased consideration to public involvement. Those include a plea for the city to take the lead in establishing warming shelters for cold weather, establishing a dog park somewhere in the city, and focusing attention on traffic and pedstrian safety. All of those issues were citizen initiated over the just the last few months. The council also wants more public process involvement in ongoing projects like Heritage Square, the River Front Plan, and an overall improvement in communication between the citizens, the council and city staff. One goal, yet to be expressly formulated but obviously something the city council wants to happen would be some form of regular open houses for the public to meet with the council members and city staff.
The formal goal document is under preparation and the Mayor promises it willbe available for public review and comment before the council makes a formal adoption. "After all", said Van Dusen, "We could have missed something important. We're not perfect"