Lakeland city commissioners convene their annual strategic planning session Wednesday in the Hollingsworth Room of the RP Funding Center where they will discuss an array of topics, including infrastructure, economic development and affordable housing.
The two-day session begins Wednesday with 8 a.m. introductions and concludes Thursday with a noon review of anticipated outcomes and next steps.
The event is open to the public but “is not a participation type” of forum, Lakeland Communications Director Kevin Cook said Tuesday, noting the session is a rare opportunity for commissioners to “share their visions” with city staff and constituents.
Because state sunshine laws preclude elected officials from gathering privately, “they don’t get to sit and talk and brainstorm” ideas with each other except when convened, he said. The commission will be convened for the session, but it is not scheduled to take any actions, he said.
Among the first items to be discussed Wednesday is January’s annual LKLDView Survey results and its ranking of city goals.
Last year, fiscal management was cited by 28.22% of survey respondents as the top-ranking city goal with economic opportunity (23.16%) and growth management (16.44%) the other top two.
It is likely that growth management will be ranked higher this year, and that commissioners questions about ascertaining the number of multifamily projects being built or planned in the city will be answered during the session.
The Lakeland Economic Development Council is set to make a Wednesday morning presentation about “the future of downtown,” Cook said.
The council’s presentation will be followed by discussions about infrastructure, economic development, Polk County Schools and affordable housing before concluding around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Thursday morning’s agenda will discuss public safety, resiliency plans, and parks and recreation before adjourning about 1 p.m.
The 2021 strategic planning session included a water supply update by Segundo J. Fernandez, an attorney who represents the city in water-related issues, smart city initiatives and a review of economic incentive plans.
Among last year’s highlights was a presentation about innovation districts by Florida Polytechnic University President Dr. Randy Avent and Central Florida Development Council President/CEO Sean Malott.
The commission will soon consider creating a proposed 4,484-acre innovation district in the northeast reaches of the city near Florida Poly.
Commissioners plan to “revisit some of our initiatives to see if they stay true and stay in the action plan,” Cook said.
On tap this year’s session are “initiatives for developing emerging leaders, city interns, programs for evaluating to review employee progress, rewards and recognition,” he said. “It’s a great time for the City Commission to revise the current strategic plan and remove items that may not be applicable.”
“People do not get to speak; only the city commission and staff” can do so during the session, Cook said.
“That’s a hard rule. We try to cram in a lot in two days,” he said.
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