City manager gets evaluation, goals

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone City Commission completed its evaluation of City Manager Darcy Long and set goals for him during a special workshop and meeting Wednesday night.

“We had some positives and some areas of concern to work on,” said Mayor Joseph Thompson on the city manager’s review.

The review was facilitated by Scott MacInnes of the Michigan Municipal League and took place in closed session.

Thompson said he could not discuss anything else about the review except there will be another facilitated review in the beginning of September.

“The one in September will follow the same process,” he said.

The city commission brainstormed multiple goals during the goal-setting portion of the meeting and prioritized the top five.

“What we’re looking for is not so much personal improvement goals, but goals to help us move the city forward. And our goals should coincide or line up with our master plan,” Thompson said.

The master plan offers an opportunity to direct new development in the city through the establishment of goals, objectives, strategies and plans. The master plan was last updated in 2015 and must be updated every five years.

The top priority was the 9th Street Project and seeing it completed.

The 9th Street project, which is scheduled to begin this summer and conclude in the fall, includes a total reconstruction of 9th Street — including work on storm drains, water lines, and sewer lines from Minneapolis Avenue to 4th Avenue — as well as work on other streets, avenues and alleys. The work on 9th Street will also include work on some of the sidewalks and an addition of a bike lane.

The commission decided the second priority would be to update the master plan and become Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) certified in the process. The RRC program through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation creates a way for cities and communities to show they’re ready for investors and developers to approach and it also allows municipalities to become more competitive in grant applications.

“One of our goals for Darcy should be that we should go through the process of updating that master plan,” Thompson said.

The third goal is to use the studies completed for the North Shore Development plan and to begin making headway in developing the area.

Commissioner Brad Mantela said he would like to see the North Shore area developed and not put off. He added he would like to see all the data from the study and work done on zoning and land agreements to be tied together so the area could become a product to market towards developers and investors.

“Getting that tied together so we can have a really concise and good product to market (the North Shore area),” Mantela said.

The fourth priority is to update numbers on the options for repairs to 15th Street and work a plan into the budget.

Commissioner Dave Phalen said 15th Street needs to be addressed as it has been pushed off for too long and is in dire need of work.

“I think it’s a challenge — I agree it’s a challenge. And I understand that there’s probably not a real large amount of citizens living on that road, but it’s still a city road and they do pay taxes. And I’ve heard a lot of them complain about it and I can’t blame them because I’ve driven on it,” he said.

Working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to put a roundabout at the intersection where M-35 and US 2 and 41 split was the last goal prioritized by the commission.

“I would also like to see us eventually working with MDOT and trying to come up with a solution with the north exit,” Commissioner Darin Hunter said.

He explained the intersection is already busy and with the 9th Street project and promoting development in the North Shore area, traffic could become more congested.