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story.lead_photo.caption LYNN KUTTER ENTERPRISE-LEADER Jill Toering of Farmington jots down ideas she has for the future of Farmington. The city is going through a strategic planning process to develop a guideline for the next 5-10 years and held a public comment meeting to gather input from local citizens.

FARMINGTON -- About 35 people dropped by City Hall on a recent Saturday morning to give their ideas on the future of Farmington and many said they are glad city officials are asking for citizen input.

Pam Marsh and her husband moved to Farmington from St. Louis, Mo., about three years ago to be near relatives in the area.

Mayor Ernie Penn said the city still wants comments from people who were not able to attend the public meeting. Send comments to melissamccarville@cityoffarmington-ar.gov.

She agreed with many of the ideas already written down on large sheets of paper.

She likes the idea of a town square or town center as a gathering place and would like to see more trails. Marsh said she and her husband hike the trails on Kessler Mountain.

Officials with Farmington City Council, Farmington Planning Commission and city staff, along with consultant Teresa Ray, have held two brainstorming sessions to work on a strategic plan to guide the city for the next five to 10 years. Ray has helped the city with planning in the past.

Large pieces of paper were set out on tables at City Hall with different topics for each paper. Citizens were asked to write down any ideas or thoughts they had about the topics, which included streets, parks and recreation, a town center, expanding the public library, a city festival or a industrial or business district.

Resident Jill Toering, said she believes input is important but she also wants to see "follow through" from the input.

One of her recommendations she jotted on the papers included improving Clyde Carnes Road.

"It's starting to crumble and needs constant maintenance," Toering said.

Toering said she agrees with a town center that is similar to Mock Park in Prairie Grove. Mock Park has benches, large trees and an open grassy area for events, such as concerts and jam sessions.

Toering also would like to see parking lots paved and is interested in making Main Street more beautiful with nice looking sidewalks, flower pots and other amenities.

Jim McFatrick moved from Farmington to Texas in 2000 and returned in 2016. McFatrick said he doesn't like what he's seeing now in Farmington.

"When we left here, Farmington was a nice town. It's started to look junky," McFatrick said.

He referred to old cars parked in yards, porches and carports filled with junk and other eyesores.

"You have one person that takes care of those ordinances and that same person is in charge of inspections for new houses. He doesn't have time to do it," McFatrick said.

His recommends city officials clean up the city first before spending any money.

"It's going to grow anyway," McFatrick said.

If the community is cleaned up, more people will want to come here and the market value of houses will go up, McFatrick said.

Texas has laws that prohibit residents from parking boats, trailers and other types of extra vehicles in front of a house. The vehicles have to be hidden behind a solid fence. McFatrick said an ordinance similar to the Texas law would help beautify Farmington.

Like others, McFatrick said he thought the public input meeting was a good idea and hoped a lot of people would drop by to give their own comments.

Joshua Frye, who is president of Farmington Kiwanis Club, said he saw a lot of redundancy on the posters and wondered if a meeting would be more productive if people were divided into groups with a moderator to facilitate a thorough and open discussion among people in the community.

Frye has been involved with some strategic planning meetings with Lincoln schools and the University of Arkansas and said breaking up into groups forces people to collaborate with each other and the interaction fuels multiple ideas.

"All of these are great things we should consider," Frye said but noted he was not seeing any ideas that were "outside the box."

Jeff Webb of Farmington said he believes it's critical for community buy-in when implementing ideas. He was interested in the changes at Creekside Park, more trails and tying into the Fayetteville trail system and possibly a splash park for children.

Ray said she will take the written comments and assign some of them to committees to discuss on how to implement and what's left will be sent to the City Council to prioritize.

The public meeting also provided a space for people to sign up if they are interested in serving on a city committee. Several people signed up on this list.

Mayor Ernie Penn said the city still wants comments from people who were not able to attend the public meeting. Send comments to melissamccarville@cityoffarmington-ar.gov.

General News on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Farmington Citizens Offer Input For Community's Future

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