Story by Chris Graham
Waynesboro city leaders concluded their first-ever visioning session on Saturday with a clear direction of where they want to see the city go over the course of the next 20 years.
The next step is to put what they spent the better part of three days talking about into a formalized plan of action.
City manager Doug Walker is chomping at the bit to get that part of the process going.
“I look at it like it’s my job to get the 300 employees who work for the city to develop a sense of ownership of this vision, from the upper management on down to the newest employee,” Walker said on Saturday.
City Councilman Tom Reynolds, for his part, said the 16-hour, three-day session “was the first real step that we’ve taken in the direction of what I was elected to do three years ago.”
“I felt like it was my job to do what I could to revitalize Waynesboro. The first step was actually hiring a city manager to take us in a new direction. The second step was to begin to plan for the future of Waynesboro,” Reynolds said.
“The third step is what we have to do next. Now we have to make it happen,” Reynolds said.
Members of Waynesboro City Council and the upper management of the city government took part in the visioning session – which was facilitated by representatives from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Policy at the University of Virginia.
The session included big- and small-group discussions on matters including things that city leaders want to keep and want to change about Waynesboro, the reinventing of city government and the establishment of operating guidelines to follow in the coming months and years.
City Councilman Reo Hatfield said after the final session on Saturday that “we’ve added music to the words of city government.”
“Now we have music, a harmony and a melody, and hopefully, we can all perform well together as a group,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield and Reynolds were appointed to serve as a subcommittee to take the thoughts on the issues of the day in Waynesboro – literally hundreds of pages worth – and meld them into a vision statement for review by the rest of city council in the coming weeks.
Walker is also preparing to begin his own visioning process with senior staff in City Hall to coincide with the vision that will be laid out by council members.