Lunch with the Mayor: An open invitation to the public

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This article is the third of a four-part series describing my goals and priorities as mayor of Sandpoint. Those are: 1) Engage the public to address community concerns 2) Improve the local economy 3) Sustain quality of life for Sandpoint residents 4) Keep Sandpoint affordable.

Priority No. 3: Sustain quality of life

Normally When I speak of quality of life, I discuss the importance of improving access to resources and affordability, preserving and protecting water and air quality, maintaining Sandpoint’s world class park system and supporting our abundance of recreational opportunities. Investing in these assets not only makes life better for those of us lucky enough to call Sandpoint home, but it attracts tourism, jobs and creates an exciting, prosperous future for Sandpoint from which we all benefit.

Currently, the City is undergoing a comprehensive plan revision along north Boyer Avenue. This sub-area review brings under consideration future use of the University of Idaho Boyer property and the areas surrounding it. This comprehensive plan review will culminate in a development request for proposal in the spring of 2018. This planning effort represents an extraordinary opportunity for us to address a number of my goals relating to quality of life: increase access to affordable housing, increase access to open space and waterways, conservation of natural habitats — flora and fauna, preservation of water quality, buildable commercial and industrial lands that support job growth and access to recreational opportunities. All these goals can be achieved through collaboration, careful planning and creative use of the Boyer property. You are invited to share your thoughts at the Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing on Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

The city is also developing a conceptual design for Farmin’s Landing property along Sand Creek between the Panida and Bridge Street. Our aim is to restore the eroding stream bank, capture and filter downtown storm water, provide safe multimodal access from the bike path to the pedestrian bridge and improve public space and access along the waterfront, beautify this “front porch” of our downtown and improve auto access to parking facilities while maintaining public parking. Completion of the plan, and this project in particular, will improve the look and feel of downtown, transportation safety, water quality, access to waterfront and recreation and it will make downtown even more attractive to business and tourism.

Another quality of life asset that may often be taken for granted is safety. Over the last six months, a mass flyer and email campaign has challenged the identity of this community as a tolerant, welcoming community. Fake flyers perpetrated by a few rogue haters have threatened people of color, Jews, local journalists and human rights leaders. The fake flyers challenge the very identity of our community as a safe place to live, raise a family, visit and recreate. Numerous fake flyers, falsely claiming to be from me, were mailed to businesses and homes in Sandpoint. Let me state once again, and for the sake of clarity, that I have NOT sent any flyers to anyone. These fake flyers use inflammatory language intended to incite fear, anger and division in our community. Please report anyone you see distributing these fake flyers to the police immediately.

I am proud of our community. Sandpoint residents have responded to the fake flyers with resilience by coming together to denounce the hateful messaging. Together we reaffirm our values of inclusion and our commitment to public safety. Sustaining quality of life requires that everyone feel safe and included in their community and that we respect each other for our differences. I remain vigilant with you, my fellow citizens, to ensure that we settle for nothing less than quality of life for everyone.

This series is in preparation for a new “Lunch With The Mayor” informal meeting to be held on the last Thursday of the month beginning Oct. 26, from 12-1 p.m. at the Cedar Street Bistro in the Cedar Street Bridge.

Shelby Rognstad is the mayor of Sandpoint. He can be reached at mayor@sandpointidaho.gov.

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