Questionnaire for City Council Candidates
- Please explain your vision for the City of Oak Ridge for the next 5 years.
I see an upturn in all three areas. In housing, I think we are getting new housing as well as increasing the turnovers in existing homes. There is also a growing trend to renovate heritage homes. I would like to see greater cooperation with our two counties and the surrounding areas.
We need to be mindful of the changes which have occurred in our demographics and look to the needs and preferences of all the current citizens.
I believe it is possible to develop a more equitable and friendly relationship with the DOE and its contracting groups provided we assume the attitude of independence.
- What is your plan to enhance revenues and/or control expenses to support or improve the City’s financial health?
I think revenues are being increased now as new commerce opens up and new building is under way. I know of one development on the drawing board to build an entire subdivision of new houses in the cost range being sought by young professionals. I actually attribute this to the recovery from recession going on across the country with lending openning up and optimism rising.
- How would you continue to strengthen the relationship between the City Council and the School Board?
- The community’s economic vitality is important to the Chamber. What relationship should the City Council have with the Chamber and other economic development organizations?
- Give us your thoughts regarding the Chamber’s 3-Year Strategic Plan and 2016 Program of Work – both of which are attached.
Unless there is much not in evidence, I think the Chamber has been missing an opportunity when it comes to membership, community unity, and economic growth. Big bricks and mortar stores are not the path of the future. Small specialty stores will be integrated with living spaces and entrepreneurial service and manufacturing are more likely target for growth for a town our size. Also, to raise livability for everyone, we need to include all the people who live here now, not just focus on the 25-45 year olds who work for DOE contracts.
- The City and Chamber recognize the city’s current housing stock is inadequate. What steps would you take to build a stronger housing stock?
I do think it would be good to require the development consultants to return phone calls. We have several dozen new single family homes in the offing in the requested price range and the developer is not getting phone calls returned.
Let me be clear that I remain unpersuaded that our housing stock is "inadequate." Our housing is what it is and at least 90% of it is highly marketable. We have been emphasizing the houses which are distressed (and accumulating means to help or demolish them) but it is time to promote the architecturally significant and delightfully malleable historic housing we still have. 25-45 year olds who work at the "plants" are not a reasonable target for stabilizing and maximizing our occupancy.
- The relationship between the City and the Department of Energy is complex and, at times, controversial. What specific ideas do you have to enhance that relationship?
I am interested in hearing in what specific ways the Chamber will be working with the new ORNL Innovation Crossroads.