MODESTO — Modestans can listen to music, eat barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers and help the city set its course for the coming years during a public forum this afternoon at Tenth Street Plaza.
The city is holding the downtown forum to gather community input for its strategic plan update for 2014 through 2017. The city is considering such priorities as public safety, economic development, improving downtown, strengthening neighborhoods and combating gangs.
The city has developed dozens of potential strategies to implement these priorities, including a half-cent public safety sales tax, offering free Wi-Fi downtown, economic incentives for businesses, private security for parks and neighborhoods and instituting penalties for households that harbor gang members.
Attendees will have the chance to list their top eight strategies to improve Modesto.
The forum is from 5 to 7 p.m. Free parking will be available at the corner lot at K and 11th streets, as well as at the 10th Street parking garage.
Deputy City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley will briefly go over the priorities and strategies that the city is considering, and then the public will be able to talk with key staff members before making their selections.
Attendees each will be given eight dots and will place one dot next to each of his or her top eight choices. There will be boards at the forum listing the dozens of priorities and strategies the city is considering.
Donations from local businesses
City spokesman Jim Arnold said the forum will cost the city about $1,185. He said local businesses have donated much of the food and other items for the event. For instance, Arnold said Frito-Lay is donating potato chips, Brenden Theatres has been running ads promoting the forum for about a month, and firefighters are volunteering to cook the hamburgers and hot dogs.
This is the only community forum Modesto is holding as part of its strategic plan update, so city officials urge residents to attend. The city also is working with a consultant to gather additional public input through a random phone survey of at least 400 residents.
Williams-Ridley said the survey questions still are being developed, but she said the survey should take place in late April to early May. She said Modesto will pay the consultant no more than $35,500 for the survey and associated work, such as preparing and presenting a report of the results.
The City Council has held two strategic plan update workshops, and Mayor Garrad Marsh convened two public safety forums. Council members will consider the results of the workshops and forums, as well as the community's input, when they adopt the strategic plan update.
The council is expected to adopt the update in late May while it holds workshops for the 2013-14 budget, which starts July 1.
For more information on today's forum, contact Arnold at Modesto's public information office, (209) 571-5125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.