On the Issues: Jamestown City Council
1. Should the city initiate a curbside pickup recycling program? Explain.
Ramone Gumke: The city of Jamestown should definitely initiate a program for curbside recycling pickup. It would have a positive impact on the environment and it would save the city of Jamestown money by extending the life of our current landfill. Thousands of tons of waste could be diverted from the landfill through good recycling practices in the years to come.
Francis Silbernagel: Yes, the curbside recycling could be shared with the recycling center for pickup. This would include all businesses. I am employed at the Jamestown High School for the last five years and in that time I have reduced the school trash by seven large Dumpsters per week.
Scott Walch: I believe the city should initiate a curbside pickup recycling program. When a person walks into Renaissance Recycling, it would surprise people that nearly all items are recyclable. Curbside pickup creates a convenience for people that would be more willing to engage in recycling, but may not be able to take their items to the recycling center during its hours of operation. It causes citizens to take a more active approach in recycling.
2. What is your vision for the community of Jamestown?
Gumke: I want to see a strategic plan developed and put in place to determine our short- and long-term needs. We must revisit this plan annually and revise as needed, thus allowing us to prioritize our needs and fund the projects required to meet those needs. In this way we can systematically fix our infrastructure, maintain it, improve city services, and improve our assets. I also want to see Jamestown grow both in its economic environment with new business and grow in its population to ensure a promising future for our city.
Silbernagel: A vital and growing community, new factories for employment and more main street shops for people to shop in.
Walch: Jamestown has an opportunity to develop into a regional hub of sorts in both commerce and population. We are centrally located between Bismarck, Fargo and Aberdeen. Jamestown is also at the crossroads of two major thoroughfares with the interstate system and U.S. 52/281. Through the work of many different entities and their strategic planning, the area is seeing the construction of a new medical facility and new energy production.
3. Should the city of Jamestown do more to improve its snow-removal policy? What, in your opinion, should be done to improve efficiency? Explain.
Gumke: As a city government it is our responsibility to look at our services provided to see where we can improve and make changes as needed on a continual basis. When a substantial snow event falls on a weekend or holiday we have to do what is needed to start plowing right away; during a snow event keep emergency routes cleared, and look at setting a plow schedule such as streets then avenues and alternate which ones are done first so citizens can better anticipate when the plows could be coming through their neighborhood.
Silbernagel: Yes, the city should do more to improve the snow removal policy. Here is what I feel should be done. Plows should be out cleaning the streets after 2 inches of snow, even if it is still snowing. Waiting till the snow stops, there is too much snow for plows to handle. Reorganize shifts and personnel to best utilize man hours. Leave cleanup for after the storm.
Walch: Communication is the key. It is a benefit to work together with an open mind and develop a plan during our off-snow season. Granted, not everyone can be happy with the result, but hopefully a practical common sense solution can be reached.
4. How do you feel about developing the area west of the city near the Jamestown Regional Medical Center. Is planning needed to facilitate future development? Explain.
Gumke: There is a large amount of planning that needs to happen before developing in that area. A water tower is needed for adequate water supply in the event of a fire or other high water usage. Roads for access, from the area around Wal-Mart and the Buffalo Mall. Current access from Interstate 94 and the frontage road is limited because it provides one route to and from. This route experiences heavy drifting and extremely low visibility during severe winter storms. When weather and road conditions within the city are poor they are extremely poor on the south end of Jamestown.
Silbernagel: It is an area that should be looked at developing, but there is the problem of prioritizing. Need to make sure the rest of the city stays in good shape before taking on a bigger area.
Walch: Planning is needed to develop the area west of the city near the new medical center. A big hurdle to overcome, regardless of zoning, is the infrastructure for freshwater supply and wastewater disposal. The next issue leads to how or to what extent is the cost absorbed or passed on.
5. The Civic Center is a heavily used facility that brings in revenue through events, meetings, conferences and other activities. It is also an aging facility that needs updating. What do you think should be done with the Civic Center, if anything, and how would you pay for it?
Gumke: We are the only community of our size in North Dakota fortunate enough to have a facility like our Civic Center and we can't let ourselves fall too far behind in keeping up the facility. With the other financial hurdles our city currently faces this highlights the need for developing a plan that can allow us to prioritize and systematically complete projects so that the money is available to do so. In this way we can do what is necessary to keep the Civic Center and other City assets viable and useful.
Silbernagel: Civic Center should be updated, having some appealing events for the citizens to enjoy. This would help pay for some of the updates.
Walch: The Civic Center was built in 1973. It would depend on the extent of current updating wants versus needs. Obviously, the city committees such as the Civic Center and the Planning Commission would have to work together with the staff at the Civic Center. If a large monetary figure was involved and outside funding was unavailable, a vote of the city may be necessary.
6. The City Council is set up to be a strong-council, weak-mayor system. Yet the mayor can choose not to appoint members to boards and they go unfilled. Should the policy be changed? Explain.
Gumke: If the current policy allows for no recourse if the mayor fails to appoint a position then the policy needs to be changed so that if the mayor fails to appoint and fill a position the City Council can step in and get it done.
Silbernagel: If the boards are viable to the community, they should be filled as City Council and mayor picked by the Jamestown residents. There should be team effort, council and mayor work as one.
Walch: I don't think the policy should be changed. Approximately 15 years ago, the City Council was decreased from 11 to 4 (not including the mayor elect). This was to create more efficiency for the city government. If a mayor chooses not to appoint or fill seats on boards, something is obviously wrong and the public is owed an explanation. Why is an inefficient and ineffective system perpetuating? Communication barrier? Close-mindedness? It is OK to ask questions and generate discussion. The public has elected and expects the mayor and the council to be efficient and effective.
7. Why should voters choose you for City Council? Explain.
Gumke: This position takes someone willing to invest the time and take the initiative necessary to ensure positive forward progress for the City of Jamestown. I am that person and I believe that I have the common sense, dedication and leadership abilities to be a positive and proactive member of the City Council.
Silbernagel: I will be a fresh mind to the answers Jamestown citizens are looking for, making Jamestown a vital community, and a great place for families to live.
Walch: I had the opportunity to move back to Jamestown almost seven years ago. I loved the geographic location. I'm glad that I am able to raise my family here. I would like to help Jamestown progress and develop into a model city for the next generation. By that I mean, no matter where they go they are comparing where they're at to Jamestown and are drawn back here to establish their roots.
8. The City Council approved taking half of the one-cent sales tax to cover the city's share of special assessments for infrastructure. How should the city prioritize use of the revenue? Explain.
Gumke: Through a strategic plan we can evaluate what our immediate and long-term needs are. The need of most concern currently is that of the sanitary sewer system and the fact that it has to be repaired to prevent fines from the Department of Health. From there we can systematically tackle other issues of water and road systems in the City of Jamestown.
Silbernagel: I don't agree on the City Council taking half percent sales tax from the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. It should have its own way of funding infrastructure now and in the future. Fixing streets should be prioritized and when they are in need of repair, the infrastructure should be considered at the same time.
Walch: I feel the council took a proactive approach based on the available information. Some of our infrastructure is well beyond its lifespan. It was a necessary approach to achieve an inevitable result that resulted in cost savings which could have resulted in fines to our city. In the future, the priority for its use may require a vote of our citizens.
9. The City Council took on the expense of infrastructure related to economic development. What kinds of projects do you think that should include? Explain.
Gumke: All city infrastructure is related to economic development because it is used by businesses, the people patronizing a business, and those who live and work within the city of Jamestown. Projects should include improvement of roads, sewer and water systems. By doing this we can ensure adequate utilities and at the same time alleviate some of the tax burden that would have been placed on the citizens of Jamestown.
Silbernagel: When infrastructure is updated on a regular basis without heavy costs, I feel this would entice new businesses to come to Jamestown.
Walch: When people look toward an area, they are looking at what is offered to meet medical and educational needs as well as water and roads. I feel infrastructure for a city includes our network of water (fresh water supply and wastewater disposal) and roads. We need to adequately provide for our current citizens and industry but also develop for the future.
10. How can the City Council foster a positive working relationship with the Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp. in growing Jamestown? Explain.
Gumke: There were points of contention around the issue of the changes made to the 1 percent sales tax. Ultimately the council made a decision based on what they felt was best for the city of Jamestown. What's done is done. A decision was made. and we all need to move forward from here. Both the city government and JSDC need to maintain open lines of communication and be able to discuss with open minds what is or isn't working to accomplish economic growth. We are all in this together.
Silbernagel: By not taking money from the JSDC program would be a good start, with the City Council working with JSDC on what things or areas that need to be developed with businesses or factories.
Walch: Continued open communication and open mindedness. Both need to work together. By doing so, the vision and mission statement(s), such as promoting the civic and economic vitality of Jamestown, will be accomplished.