September 21, 2015

Town Council plans for the future in Windham - By Andrea Turner

The Windham Town Council met on Tuesday, September 15th to discuss plans regarding the future of the community and the citizens who live here. This meeting was documented as an “Interim Strategic Planning” session, and many different topics were discussed which will, mainly, provide planning for the next two fiscal years starting on October 1, 2015 and run through June 30th, 2018. During this time, the goal of the town council is to “have a new comprehensive master plan which will have much broader community goals, based on community input.” 

Town manager Tony Plante started the meeting by discussing larger-scale issues the town faces such as diversity, technology, energy and aging. When comparing Windham to other communities close by (and further away), he recognized the continuous growth this town has seen over the past several years. “Windham, as a community, has been growing for decades…and this is just in population”. 

When the topic of aging, and the older members of the community were brought up, it also sparked conversation as to new ideas to keep younger generations here to work and live once they are done with school…Mr. Plante referred to this as “building leadership capacity”. After going into more detail regarding what this means, he described it more as a way to train the younger generations to take over when the person “above” them retires, or leaves the position in any given field. 

Technology and energy were next on the agenda and, once again, it was acknowledged that these two topics are ever-changing, especially in today’s world. “There are more things we can do to reduce the town’s energy footprint and, as a result, reduce our exposure to fluctuations and energy markets,” Plante said of the town’s current use of energy and technology. From there, the council discussed more specific topics such as the parks and recreation department and their current need of maintenance at their facilities, the town library and the current hours and staffing issues that need to be addressed, and the future of the police and fire departments and the concerns regarding call logs, and what are considered “true emergencies”. 

Towards the end of the meeting, goals and timelines were brought up and how “integrating the strategic plan into the budget process” would work. The council addressed that they would like to prioritize what needs to be budgeted, and to make sure what gets scheduled to be done truly gets done, and does not get put on the backburner. Council member Donna Chapman stated that she wanted to look at what the citizens of this community wanted to see be done, and to take those suggestions into consideration while making plans for the future of the town. The members discussed having a special meeting on October 6th in the Council chambers to start prioritizing items for the next few years, starting with 2016.  

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