HANSON – The Hanson Select Board, on Tuesday, March 7, held a strategic planning session with other boards and department heads at Camp Kiwanee.
The goal, according to Select Board Chair Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett, was to review the results of last year’s initial brainstorming session to avoid having that work wasted by tucking it on a shelf and forgetting it.
The meeting broke up into groups to discuss where progress had been made and where it is still needed.
“We want to come out of tonight with some solid action steps,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “We don’t want to be just talking in circles.”
The areas in which goals were being discussed were:
• Public facilities for improvement to meet the needs of citizens and town departments;
• Public programming and recreation to develop programs and opportunities for citizens of all ages;
• Economic development to mitigate tax increases while providing first-class services to Hanson citizens;
• Citizen engagement to build participation in town government by filling volunteer positions and increasing Town Meeting attendance; and
• Town administration to make town employment more attractive to qualified candidates.
“One of the loudest cries that we heard was about communicating with citizens and engaging citizens and, of course, that got back to our website and how we do things,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said, introducing Town Administrator Lisa Green, who described the Select Board’s contracting of Capital Strategic Solutions to assist with that civic engagement effort.
“They have revamped and redesigned how [we] post things,” she said of examples the consultant has posted on social media. “So far, we’ve heard very god feedback.”
They’ve only been at work on the project for about three or four weeks, Green said, but what town officials have seen is excellent.
The Economic Development Committee is also hard at work. Town Planner Antonio DeFrias outlined the group’s economic manual. Completed a few months ago, it provides a step-by-step handbook for the steps new businesses coming into town need to get inspections done before opening and other information.
The facilities group’s discussion yielded a monthly follow-up schedule of meetings to identify all current and future public facilities to discover, among other things, the exact use of the facilities and how they fit into the capital matrix and whether they have ancillary support groups or foundation. Archiving and publishing the information is another goal.
Under Recreation, one of the goals is to return to a Recreation Committee, in place of the Camp Kiwanee Commission. It’s five members would serve one-year terms to establish policies and procedures and establish a business plan to help make it self-sufficient and to create a revolving account to support the programs and prevent using it as an enterprise fund. An events calendar is one way of publicizing programs.
Economic Development requires a huge partnership between land use groups and the EDC, according to that working group, and should start on the MBTA Communities 40R overlay and extending the flexible overlay further down Main Street, as that is their area of focus. Zoning bylaws should also be reviewed in an effort to make the town more business friendly, while reconvening the EDC.
Capital Strategic solutions’ help with improving the website Citizen engagement is a key, but getting town representatives out to holding both hours at events like Hanson Days and other town events. A discussion of sign bylaws so an electronic message board could be placed at Town Hall was also considered.
Town administration’s mission to take care of Town Hall staff, needs a human resources position – an HR generalist working out of the Select Board office, working with the town administrator. One suggestion was to use funds such as the cannabis impact fees, meals tax and tax title properties could be used for that salary. A clear, concise and easy to understand employee handbook was also recommended.