We Can Work It Out!
For the past several months, over a variety of issues, the Town of Fort Myers Beach Council members have had a standing refrain when discussing multiple topics – what to do with Fountain Park: we’ll discuss it during the upcoming long-range planning session. Times Square information booth – save it to the planning sessions. Swales or pipes in the ground for the Town’s new stormwater system – long-range planning! Now, those sessions are right around the corner.
The Town has set aside Monday, June 5, and Tuesday, June 20, for this program, to be held in Council Chambers of Town Hall, with Lorna Kibbey of Leadership Solutions facilitating the planning. Lorna already has some previous experience with the Town, as she led the two-stage long-range planning sessions for the Mound House in November and December of 2016 for roughly 30 people, including a few members of Council. Everyone was so impressed with her efforts that the Town contracted with her to guide its planning workshops.
“There are people who have never taken part in a program like this,” explains Lorna. “For those who have not, what we are going to do is look at the current Town plan that is in place, and refresh everyone’s memory as to why that exists, then we will determine if this is still the right way to go and envision the strategy to make it a success, so that is the basic purpose. Then the main thing is to define what that success will look like, so we will use a tool called ‘SCOT Analysis’ that stands for Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities and Threats. These help participants to understand where we are, what needs the most attention, and how do we get there. We will then be ready put the existing or new plan in place, once we establish what are our right goals and direction.”
Lorna gives Town Council high marks for organizing its long-range planning session. “This speaks very highly of them as a group. This tells me that Council wants to set aggressive goals, wants to understand the root of those goals and see if the ones that they have in place are still relevant. They need to understand as well that goals over time can and do change, to recognize if plans are still important or require updating or even elimination. Goals change, even in a brief amount of time, from one year to the next, so good for them that they want to conduct this critical analysis. That is the process we are going to go through with them.”
Knowledge, Talent & Vision
Lorna does not meet with Council in advance, nor will she receive any material from them or the Town, with the exception of its current plans. “It is after all the Town’s vision, and any changes to that will become its new goals. All I do is review the current outline, as I am just the facilitator – this is not my plan but the Town’s. They are the ones with the knowledge and talent and the vision; my role as the facilitator is to help them to channel that knowledge and talent, to get them through the review process, so they will come up with the best ways forward to achieve the results that they need.”
When the sessions are complete, Lorna hopes Town Council will “leave with specific and clear expectations of where they are headed and what they need to do to get there. Then, once that begins to translate out into the community, Fort Myers Beach citizens should see the difference in the quality of their lives and improvements to their Town, as everything Council does is to make life better on Fort Myers Beach, through the benefit of this work and the results that they achieve.”
Lorna will meet with Town officials next week to iron out final details, including who beside Council members will be invited to participate, as well as if there will be any role in the process for input from the general public. “We will focus in on the length of each session, as well as the overall process and involvement.” Lorna feels that Council has set aside the initial two dates to break up the program into shorter time components, rather than one long forum that can be physically and mentally draining. “Full day meetings are tough, and many times we find groups do better when they do their sessions in shorter bursts, but again we will set those times and details next week.”
The programs on June 5 and 20 will sort out the information, then Lorna will analyze the results and present them back to Council at a third meeting, to be set at a later date.