· We need to focus on and build around our strengths in order to provide for improving our weaknesses. For instance -
Oak Ridge Heritage buildings and culture are fiscally valuable as well as historically and socially significant. We need to preserve the buildings through code enforcement, establishment of programs to assist in maintenance, and public sentiment.
So long as “The Mall” is not in the city’s possession, we need to let the nature of capital and commerce take its course. Save our energies for those situations we can affect. The owners are unlikely to leave the area undeveloped forever. We can, however, be prepared to participate and accumulate ideas for its renewal.
We have natural assets which contribute to sports participation.
We have an unusually above average population of creative and capable citizens.
We have 98% of what it takes to make this an ideal retirement Mecca.
We need to review our city sign ordinances and zoning and find changes which help small businesses to thrive here with an equal underwriting as that which we provide to large employers. We especially need to give areas of neighborhood business development (as in Grove Center, Jackson Square, and the Jefferson district) access to identification along the Turnpike.
It would be useful to have a council of small businesses which would address the creation of ideas for more ways to help them thrive in which the city can participate.
· We need to encourage and reward personal responsibility.
We can celebrate the individual homeowners, landlords, and commercial property holders who create and maintain attractive Oak Ridge property.
We need to enforce codes especially with respect to rental properties, both commercial and residential. An investment in code enforcement now will pay us back in reduced problems over time.
We need to participate wholeheartedly in Keep Anderson County Beautiful.
We might create a publicity program that encourages proper litter disposal.
We could select outstanding properties monthly to cite for exceptional design or landscaping or improvement in both residential and commercial categories.
· We need to encourage and reward public participation.
The idea for having a city-wide visioning process to consider what we want Oak Ridge to become over the next 50 years is an excellent one. It is a somewhat labor intensive one but we have a prior city plan upon which to build. We also have a large number of skilled mediators and team building professionals locally of whom we can ask voluntary help. It may take some doing, however, to get past the fact that we have made plans before and failed to follow through on them.
We need to ask our local newspapers to be in serious competition to see which can provide more information on public issues and in the more enthralling format. Many of our citizens, young and old, have better access to print media than to electronic ones.
For those who prefer electronic media, we need to expand the use of blogs and web sites to disseminate information and opinions.
Most of all we need to cease thinking of ourselves as a "government town" and begin to think of ourselves as Oak Ridge, a city with a large federal tenant with whom we endeavor to cooperate.