We have hired a consultant to walk the community through this process, and he and the principle staff member overseeing this project, the talented and intelligent Tim, were already at the Middle School setting up when I arrived. We had coffee, water, fruit and snacks all set. All we needed were people to attend and share their ideas.
I'll be honest, I wanted to be forced to call the fire department and get an occupancy load count. We had plans for 200 plus people. We had a smaller turnout, but those that came, came to work. We had a great community minded discussion. The participants broke into small groups with two facilitator's per group who helped the participants through the process. It was great to see how people feed off each other and learned from and collaborated with each other over the course of the two plus hours of small group work.
In the end the three groups reported back to the larger group what they value about Dover and what they see as challenges that lie ahead. What was fascinating is that we had very similar answers for each group. There is a strong appreciation of the community Dover has become. There is a strong appreciation for the family friendly town we are, and an acknowledgement of the value we have placed on education and economic diversity. Regarding challenges, we see that infrastructure, and maintaining the high levels of education and the balance between developed and undeveloped land. Additionally, a challenge is the continued efforts we have to make on transportation efficiency.
Up next are neighborhood meetings. These will build off the community conversation, and delve deeper into the questions about the future of Dover. These neighborhood meetings will be geared towards the next steps. In other words, we will go that next step in and look closer at the results from Saturday and ask the follow up question: What does this mean? People will be encouraged to think about the consequences of the challenges and value that has been articulated. We will also be working in some electronic polling to see how people feel about different aspects of Dover, such as service levels and facilities.
I encourage you to check out www.Dover2023.com, come to a neighborhood meeting (dates/times/locations below), and bring anyone you can think of to attend as well. All of the meetings take place in the cafeteria of the school.
Tues. March 13 7-9 pm Garrison Elementary
Thurs. March 22 7-9 pm Horne Street Elementary
By the way, now that I re-read all this, maybe the title should have been Dover 2023 has begun.