Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Vacaville Sets Strategic 2-Year Course

Vacaville Sets Strategic 2-Year Course
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

A plan that will guide Vacaville through the next two years is in place after Tuesday night's city council meeting.

The council unanimously adopted the 2007-2009 Strategic Plan, which is structured around four goals: Ensuring public safety; strengthening the local economy; promoting community viability; and, maintaining effective and efficient city services. Specific projects address each of these goals.

These projects are varied and include technology improvements for public safety, acquiring land for water detention basins, revitalizing the East Main and Bush Street areas through the Opportunity Hill project, completion of the Nut Tree Development, construction of the Vacaville intermodal transportation center and developing a master plan for the vacant land at Centennial Park.

The plan also calls for a return to a two-year operating budget, an update of development impact fees, a multi-disciplinary team for juvenile offenders and a strategy to revitalize vacant shopping centers.

The council members met with staff in a study session March 9 to discuss the plan, and department heads presented the highlights of the final draft Tuesday. Councilmembers' suggestions from the study session, such as possibly creating a fire department intern program and hiring a state/federal lobbyist, were incorporated into the approved version.

City Manager David Van Kirk said, "(The plan) is ambitious, but I think there are a lot of good things in it." Mayor Len Augustine said he was very pleased with the plan's comprehensiveness, and his colleagues agreed.

Vice Mayor Chuck Dimmick said he was impressed that the plan contained "very measurable, very doable," tasks and objectives.

Another item listed in the plan is a proposed public safety training facility. During Tuesday's meeting, council approved a strategic business plan for such a facility, which has been in the works since 2005.

Interact Business Group provided consultant services and worked with police and fire personnel on the business plan. A 10- to 12-acre site would be needed for the facility, and the plan proposes building the estimated $12.8 million project in three phases. The plan also names some components of the proposed facility, such as a drill tower, indoor and outdoor burn props, a low-speed emergency vehicle operations course and a firearms training simulator.

In the future, staff will be exploring the possibility of co-locating the center at the Solano Community College 60-acre campus, as well as devising a project timeline and funding plan for phase one. Interact President Bill Booth said research showed outside agencies have a strong interest in using a local training facility, which could generate revenue.

Councilman Steve Wilkins said, "I think it is really important for the future of public safety that we have this sort of facility. What training means is that we stand a greater chance of protecting property and saving lives."

In other business, the council issued proclamations recognizing fair housing month and earthquake preparedness month.

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