Community Coordinators Celebrate 20-year Anniversary
Aug 29, 2017 04:08PM
By Jana Klopsch
Sandy City presented engraved compasses to each Community Coordinator for their service. (Nicole Martin/Sandy City)
The foundation of any great city is people who are educated, involved, and motivated. Sandy City is a fine example of a community that relies on its citizens’ participation. Innovative programs such as the Community Coordinators Program allow residents to direct and guide the development of their city.
On Saturday, July 29, Sandy City celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Community Coordinators Program and the many individuals who have participated in the past two decades.
The theme for the evening banquet was “Navigating Sandy Forward.”
“This valuable program, the only one of its kind in Utah, requires that all Sandy City development initiatives and projects go through a resident outreach process,” said Nicole Martin, deputy mayor of Sandy. “This process ensures residents have a voice in the growth of their community.”
A BRIEF HISTORY
When Mayor Tom Dolan was first elected in 1997, he sought ways to improve communication with local residents. He asked city officials to help formulate a plan to improve participation of residents in city development.
It was first proposed to organize Sandy in four quadrants and to appoint a resident from each area to act as a representative and a communication liaison. The concept was approved and formally adopted by the city council on March 25, 1997.
The original name of the program was Community Neighborhood Communications Program.
As the city grew and the program evolved, a new plan was adopted to divide Sandy into 30 smaller communities for better representation. Each district has a number and a name. The 30 neighborhoods are each headed by a citizen volunteer — the community coordinator — to enhance communication between local residents and elected officials and staff at City Hall.
“Today, we continue to strive for the best mechanism possible to communicate on the local level,” said Dolan. “People have the ideas, the power, to make a difference in their neighborhoods.”
Susan Foster, a coordinator from Falcon Hill, District 21, said, “Over the years, I have really appreciated the interaction and being informed of city business. I’ve learned how the city works, and I know the elected officials. If there’s a problem or concern I know how to find a solution.”
The city council routinely informs the community coordinators of upcoming city developments. Coordinators then make sure a local neighborhood meeting is held within their district as the first mandatory step in any new city plan.
Community coordinators may hold meetings as often as necessary to address issues in the city. Meetings are usually held once a month in City Hall.
Marsha Millet, senior advisor to the mayor, oversees the organization of the Community Coordinators Program. She is one of just six original volunteers from the program’s inception in 1997.
Millet analyzes individual and community concerns by constituents and ensures that those concerns are communicated to the mayor and city departments. She also trains and supervises the 30 volunteer community coordinators.
“In my twenty years of working with the community coordinators, I have discovered that Sandy City has some of the finest people living within its borders,” said Millet. “Many projects over the years have turned out better because residents took the initiative to prepare the item for the city’s planning commission.”
Sandy City’s next major community development is the Cairns City Center. The 1,100-acre project has been underway since 2015 and city leaders have relied heavily on citizen input during the entire process. In fact, the Cairns master plan is a culmination of more than six years of planning, including extensive studies and public opinion polls. The master plan accounts for population growth, transportation, housing and recreation uses for a 25-year period.
The success and prosperity of Sandy City is dependent on its citizens. The next 20 years will include many challenges and opportunities for local residents to navigate the city forward.
During the July 29 banquet, Dolan and city officials presented commemorative plaques and compasses to each of the community representatives to recognize their invaluable contributions to the city.
“The city looks forward with great anticipation to the continued success of this productive citizen-led program,” said Dolan.
For more information about citizen volunteer positions, visit www.sandy.utah.gov. Sandy residents also are welcome to attend city council meetings, held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 10000 South Centennial Parkway.