This is Part 4 in Fairfield Taxpayer’s initial series on this subject. Part 1 addressed “What is a Strategic Plan?” and why we agree that having one would be good for our Town; Part 2 addressed the foundational questions: “Where are we and how did we get here?”; Part 3 addressed the ultimate questions: “Where should we go and how should we get there?”; and Part 4 will now recommend some “Next Steps.” Our views are offered, as we hope many others will be, not as definitive, but as constructive contributions to a much broader discussion that engages as many Fairfield stakeholders as possible.
Fairfield Taxpayer’s recommended next steps are as follows:
1. The Board of Selectmen (B0S) should create a basic charter for a Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) in consultation with the Board of Finance (BOF), Board of Education (BOE), the Town Plan and Zoning Commission (TPZ) and the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), that establishes preliminary authorities, responsibilities and timelines.
2. The BOS should nominate a few members to an SPC Steering Committee for approval by the RTM.
• The steering committee should consider the best size and composition of a larger SPC that will represent a cross-section of Fairfield’s stakeholders (including businesses, private schools and colleges), and recommend such additional members to the BOS and the RTM. It will not be practical to represent every stakeholder group on the SPC, but the members should reflect the most important different perspectives, such as business, education, recreation, conservation, etc.
• The First Selectman, a representative from the BOF, the BOE, the RTM and the TPZ, the Town Director of Economic Development, and the Chief Fiscal Officer should all be ex officio members of the SPC.
• The steering committee should review the SPC charter and make any recommendations for changes to the BOS.
3. The full SPC should decide whether a consultant with municipal strategic planning experience should be retained to facilitate the planning process, and if so it should approve the issuance of an RFP for that purpose, consider candidates, and recommend a consultant to the BOS.
4. The SPC should create a “Plan for Plan” and submit it for approval to the BOS.
5. As soon as possible, the SPC should create subcommittees and retain experts to address specific needs for additional information and analysis on what it considers to be key issues.
• For example, consider a special advisory committee of real estate developers and urban planners that could separately begin to reimagine how the Town could transform Fairfield Center.
• For example, consider whether to conduct a town-wide survey that would give all residents an opportunity to express their opinions. Farmington CT conducted a survey of this kind as part of its planning process, the results of which can be found at the following site: http://www.farmington-ct.org/docs/StrategicPlan/Final_Plan.pdf.
6. The SPC should create a user-friendly website dedicated to the strategic planning process where any stakeholder who is interested can find out what is happening and offer comments, and it should consider other ways to ensure maximum practical engagement by all interested parties.
7. The SPC should provide quarterly progress reports to a combined meeting of the BOS, BOF, TPZ and RTM.
Summary and Conclusion
At this point, since it is far too soon to draw any final conclusions about where Fairfield should go and how it should get there, Fairfield Taxpayer hopes that in our upcoming updates on this subject we will have the benefit of ideas, analysis, proposals and recommendations from hundreds of Fairfield stakeholders. Accordingly, we will end this initial series of papers with the following sign: