A lot has happened since city councilors last met to discuss their long-term strategy goals. Newport has a new police chief, new fire chief, and most importantly, a new city manager.
So it is encouraging to see that councilors will once again be meeting to review their collective aims next week.
The last they met, councilors parted with a vision of making Newport the most livable and welcoming city in New England, adopting a mission statement that read as follows:
"To provide leadership, direction and governance that continuously improves our community while preserving our maritime, cultural and historic heritage; to ensure that Newport enjoys a high quality of life and is a safe, clean and enjoyable place to live and work; to exercise the prudent financial planning and management necessary to achieve our strategic goals; to pursue excellence in everything we do, invest in our future of our community, especially the education of our children, and work closely with our businesses and institutions to sustain a healthy economic and tourism climate; to promote and foster outstanding customer service to all who come in contact with the city; to deliver quality and cost effective municipal services to our residents, businesses, institutions and visitors that results in the highest achievable levels of customer satisfaction; and to support the use of defined processes and continuous improvement as key components of our service delivery model."
As Mayor Stephen C. Waluk has said in the past, "Everything the council does – be it small or large – should be looked at through the lens of the mission statement."
In following through with this process, councilors have made good on a promise made in the strained days following the November 2010 election and ensuing mayoral selection process.
This is yet another step in the right direction for this council and we applaud their commitment to the process, which demonstrates an inherent respect for forward planning.
Meanwhile, the process that's playing out in the construction of the new Pell Elementary School continues to be a concern. With the project scheduled to go out to bid by Jan. 16, building committee members met again this week to review a series of outstanding issues.
Unfortunately, they are not insignificant, and several members of the committee expressed frustration over where the project stood as of earlier this week. Among the issues still be addressed: How to best contain soil contaminated with high levels of arsenic; receiving approval on a final drainage system; and trimming still some $140,000 from the total project cost.
Building a new elementary school was never going to be an easy task. But one has to wonder if it could have gone any smoother if the process was improved.