by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Planning for the future of Sanibel is underway as the strategic planning retreat wrapped up its first day on Saturday and heads into the second day on Wednesday. It’s the first one in nearly 50 years, when the island incorporated as a city to prevent overdevelopment.
The threat of rampant development has diminished, but there are many challenges facing the island, as a community and city. A group comprised of council members, city staff and citizens chosen by council has taken on the task of developing a strategic plan for the future of Sanibel.
Dr. Bob Lee, president of Local Government Advisors, is facilitating the process. He is the program coordinator and an associate professor of Master of Public Administration at Florida Gulf Coast University. He also serves as the executive director of the Center for Florida Local Government Excellence and previously served as a member of the graduate faculty at Florida State University.
He earned a B.A. and M.P.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a D.P.A. from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale. He is also a published author, co-author and co-editor of several articles and publications on Florida local government.
“I think (the group) is in a good position to start discussing vision and mission statements and developing strategic goals,” said Lee, who had a 26-year career in city management serving under three different forms of government before joining academia. “At the end of Wednesday, they should have good strategic goals for the city to use moving forward into the future.”
The Sanibel Vision Statement was adopted in 1986 and part of it hangs in MacKenzie Hall. It has become the cornerstone of the island lifestyle and provided a sense of direction throughout the decades. It’s equally as important as The Sanibel Plan to the community.
Lee said the idea is not necessarily to change the language and a good vision statement is aspirational, shows what is important about the city. It declares where and what you want to be in the future. A mission statement, generally one sentence, serves to communicate purpose and direction to employees, customers and all stake holders.
Sanibel has a new city council with three first-year members, a first-time mayor and vice-mayor, a new city manager and many new residents. Lee said he thinks this could be just the right time to have a conversation on the city’s strategic goals.
“Every so many years, it is worth going the process of bringing people together and trying to have control over destiny,” Lee said. But, he said, Sanibel is facing the same challenge as many other cities – things outside its control, such as erosion to home rule, sea level rise and water quality issues stemming from Lake Okeechobee.
SWOT ANALYSIS SUMMARY
Strengths — Sanibel Plan, Council/Manager form of government, non-partisan officials, talented staff, community support systems (government, nonprofits, community groups)
Weaknesses — Information systems (speed of processing) and HR challenges (limited staff and affordable housing), “loved to death” (overtaxed infrastructure, roads, water and beaches), traffic congestion (no longer just seasonal)
Opportunities — Staff compensation/job classification study and technology, ARPA funding, infrastructure, renewable energy, water quality, transportation (mobility alternatives, causeway traffic relief and water quality), collaboration/partnerships and public education about Sanibel
Threats — Erosion of home rule, need for education on The Sanibel Plan to ensure all (new and existing) stakeholders understand the importance of preserving the sanctuary environment of the island, environmental (sea level rise and water quality)
The strategic planning process really began in February with a workshop in which city council members listened to public input on matters facing the community now and over the next decade. Many of the items heard from residents were represented in the SWOT analysis.
“It is critically important to engage the public for input, give them an opportunity to weigh in on what’s important to them…not all jurisdictions do that,” said Lee. “(The workshop) was very commendable.”
Mission and vision statements, core values and laying out strategic goals are the next steps in the Wednesday session. “The most important thing, from my perspective, is I’m the facilitator. What evolves from this retreat will be up to the people.”
Strategic Planning Retreat Working Group
|Mayor Holly D. Smith||Dana Souza, City Manager||Robert “Bob” Brooks|
|Vice Mayor Richard Johnson||Chief Bill Dalton, Sanibel Police Chief||Barbara Joy Cooley|
|Councilman Dr. Scott Crater||John Agnew, Sanibel City Attorney||Chris Davison|
|Councilman John Henshaw||Crystal Mansell, Administrative Services Director||James Evans|
|Councilman Mike Miller||Scotty Lynn Kelly, City Clerk||Kevin Godsea|
|Bert Smith, Information Technology Director||Joel Goodman|
|Holly Milbrandt, Natural Resources Director||Roger Grogman|
|Steve Chaipel, Finance Director||Neil Halleran|
|Trish Phillips, Recreation Director||Yvonne Hill|
|Keith Williams, Community Services Director||Calli Johnson|
|Craig Chandler, Planning Supervisor||Darla Letourneau|
|Dana Dettmar, Natural Resources Department||Stephen Lodwick|