29's STRATEGIC PLANNING TOP 10-ISH
Council members agree that a detective, a new animal shelter and replacing ball field lights are top priorities
City Council met for consecutive five-hour sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 24 and 25, to brainstorm funding priorities for for 2023 - 2025. The goal: finding consensus on a “top ten” based on an array of topics: Economic Development; Infrastructure / Roads and Maintenance; Wastewater; Parks and Facilities; Homelessness; Community Engagement; General Plan; Infrastructure / SR62 Improvements; Workforce; and Public Safety.
The schedule of 11 topics was consolidated onto eight giant stickies hung left to right on the east wall of Council Chambers with the headings Quality Living; Housing; Facilities; Policy; Infrastructure; Finance; Public Safety and Economic Development.
City Manager Frank Luckino moderated (and occasionally spun) as Council discussed the schedule of topics and the public added comment. Ideas were added to the stickies with Luckino directing placement and language while Recreation Division Manager Kary Minatrea wielded a sharpie—blue for the Tuesday session and green for Wednesday.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s session Council members were handed colored dots and asked to place the dots next to their priorities. Anything with three or more dots or votes was moved into the Top Ten. Although the City Manager then applied a loose ranking, in fact the exact ranking is yet to be determined.1
Summary of items receiving three or more votes. Note that votes are not conclusive about support as some Council members didn’t vote on items they felt were being currently addressed by Council:
Addition of detective
Ball field lights at Luckie Park
New Palms-N-Paws and Animal Shelter
Loan (for facilities completion and repairs) (All but Bilderain)
Housing / Homelessness Committee (All but Wright)
Expansion of Theatre 29 (All but Scott)
Taxes (for facilities completion and repairs) (All but Bilderain and Wright)
IT improvements (All but Klink and Scott)
FEMA Emergency Plan (All but Scott and Wright)
PAAC / Rediscover 29 / Arts and Events (All but Klink and Mintz)
Do you agree with Council’s decisions? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our live chat in the Substack app.
Disclosure: Cindy Bernard is currently Chair of the Public Arts Advisory Committee, which is a part of the City of Twentynine Palms.
Below is the final version of each stickie as displayed on the wall left to right, along with our notes as needed.
Mayor McArthur Wright: orange
Mayor Pro Tem Steven Bilderain: red
Councilman Joel Klink: green
Councilman Daniel Mintz: blue
Councilman Octavious Scott: yellow
Public Arts Advisory Committee (PAAC) Chair Cindy Bernard requested that the PAAC and Rediscover 29, the promotional arm of the Downtown Business Association, be consolidated for voting as the groups have similar goals—organizing arts and events programming for residents and economic development. Council member Scott asked that Music Changing Lives, a non profit “dedicated to providing music, art, and tutoring programs in America’s public schools and community centers” be added to the consolidation for voting purposes.
Items under this topic heading ended up being consolidated under the Policy topic.
z107.7 owner and General Manager and Theatre 29 nonprofit Board President Gary Daigneault argued that the expansion of the theater should be prioritized. Theatre 29 has exclusive use of the theater building, which is owned by the City and leased to the nonprofit at no cost. The renovation was originally packaged with Pioneer Park in an unsuccessful grant application.
Compelling arguments for support were also made by Jerry Mattos and Ann Congdon from the Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Ted Wright of the 29 Palms Art Gallery. Both are also 501c3 non profits that are City institutions but have received only limited City support.
The number of items under this topic lead to Council Member Mintz proposing consolidating several projects under a single loan enabling them to be completed more quickly as the City pays off the costs over time. See the Finance topic below.
Wide-ranging discussions across several topics about the growing unhoused population and the need for affordable housing resulted in the suggestion of a dedicated subcommittee for exploring solutions.
That the City apparently lacks an emergency plan is surprising and a clear topic of concern.
Discussion of outdated information technologies (IT) throughout the City followed a presentation by CV Strategies, which took over as manager of City social media accounts in December. It was noted that the improved social media points toward an antiquated and confusing City website.
Replacement of the ball field lights at Luckie Park might seem an odd priority given the issues facing the Twentynine Palms. However it was made clear that the current light poles are dilapidated and are in danger of falling in high winds.
In addition to Mintz’s loan proposal discussed under Facilities, Council discussed the possibility of raising Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and / or sales taxes to finance needed improvements. Council members also pointed out that, unlike a loan, taxes are ultimately decided upon by a vote of residents.
Text with Mayor Pro Tem Bilderain, January 28
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