When we greeted 2020 almost a year ago, I doubt that any of us knew what we were getting into! Yet here we are. As a community, as neighbors, and as friends, we’ve met the mess that is 2020 in a variety of ways. While we have worked to stay connected, it can be easier said than done in this new reality. And gaps in information can give way to confusion and assumptions.
From now on, I’ll be writing a monthly column for the E-news and website. I’ll also do a deeper dive into issues and projects for the bi-monthly newsletter that is delivered directly to your home. I hope these reports will tell you more about who I am and the work staff is tackling at the direction of the BOMC for Avondale Estates.
As City Manager, I have to allocate resources that best serve residents now and into the future, all while trying to shape a more diverse economy. We must attract new businesses while keeping the ones we’ve grown to love. Not to be cliché, but I really do want to keep Avondale Estates a place where people want to live, work, and play. Whether folks are starting a career, a family, or their retirement, we want them to choose us to be home.
A diverse and dedicated staff is our secret weapon. They keep all the balls in the air to make the City hum. Our employees always keep an eye out for creative solutions, better processes, and new challenges. Those skills have been put to the test this year without a doubt! Plates were already full with the redesign of our zoning code and historic district design guidelines, a new Town Green, the North Avondale/278 Complete Street project, and a stormwater master plan, for example. If we have learned anything from this year, it’s the importance of adapting.
COVID-19 forced us to think on our feet in so many ways. Staggered schedules for our boots on the ground, working from home while remaining accessible, and moving some processes to a virtual platform are just some examples of how we tried to protect staff’s health, and also yours. In fact, not one City meeting has been a casualty of the virus. Virtual meetings come with a steep learning curve, but they are now within reach for many who couldn’t previously attend. We hope to keep this accessibility when we return to conducting the business of the City face-to-face.
Don’t get me wrong. As a community we’ve risen to the occasion, but it hasn’t been without major concessions. Suspending the special events that help make our town special has been a huge blow. An egg-less Easter, fizzled Fourth of July, and hollowed out Halloween doesn’t give citizens as much community excitement with which to look forward. While the moratorium on in-person events stands, we are looking as a team toward virtual celebrations this holiday season. In a post-COVID world, we will gather as friends and neighbors again. For now, safety and practicality lead the way.
The lessons we have learned from expanding our virtual footprint is one that I want to put in place day-to-day. This column is an effort to do just that. While this is my soapbox, I feel communication is a two-way street. I want to hear your questions, concerns, suggestions, and thoughts. While sitting down face-to-face is not easy these days, I hope that you feel you can email me at any time. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to our conversations and wish you well as we enter the busy holiday season.