On Friday, Jan. 8, the Ely City Council will convene a special meeting at the Jailhouse restaurant. The purpose of the 9 a.m. meeting is to create and possibly adopt a strategic plan for the city, including a mission statement and a vision statement, and to identify the city’s future goals.
“I want to make the city as efficient as possible,” Mayor Melody Van Camp said. “I want to save money, cut costs and deliver a better service. We need some economic viability. Mining is pretty volatile, and I’ve been around when it shuts down. It’s pretty hard on people.”
Van Camp wants to focus on Ely’s tourism and other natural resources. Bicycling, motorcycling, hunting and other outdoor recreation provide the city with a diverse range of economic opportunity. She wants billboards along the highways leading to town.
“We’ve got to promote Ely,” she said. “We’ve got to help ourselves.”
City Councilman Kurt Carson wants to focus on infrastructure.
“Water, sewer, utilities and the streets are all old and dilapidated,” Carson said. “It’s really expensive and it’s a tough sell, so I’m focused on that. Other than that, I’m going in with an open mind and I’m going to listen to everyone’s input.”
City Councilman Bruce Setterstrom wants to focus on road improvements and the well-publicized fire department issue.
“Our biggest obstacle is the money to pay for it,” he said.
Setterstrom believes the city has two options to raise enough money for such goals, but declined to elaborate on them, adding, “the county is coming up on its fourth year of deficit spending and it could contract with the city for fire services.”
City Administrator Bob Switzer believes there has yet to be an official strategic plan for Ely to date.
“The plan will help us identify issues, objectives and goals in the long term instead of just this budget cycle,” Switzer said. “It will be a freeform discussion. It’s a new process for everybody.”
His eventual goal is to have a draft document to present to citizens.
“It’s an evolving process,” he said, “and the meeting will jumpstart that process.”
“I’m excited about this because it’s long-range planning,” Van Camp said. “We’ve never done this before.”
Friday’s meeting is expected to adjourn at noon. and will reconvene Saturday, Jan. 9, at 1 p.m.