Baxter city leaders plan to talk and listen Saturday during Baxter's town hall meeting.
Residents willing to trade in a little time on Saturday morning will have a chance to talk with elected officials and meet individually with city department staff members at the Heritage Assembly of God Church.
"It's just that two-way communication that doesn't always happen. It's just a perfect opportunity to come face to face and talk to those council members and see what their vision is for the city and to get those specific questions answered," said Tammy Filippi, chairwoman of Baxter's Long Range Planning Commission.
Filippi said without a controversy, people are sometimes reluctant to attend. But she said the meeting will provide plenty of information. "It's really informal, people can come and go as they want."
Baxter town meeting
Baxter residents Saturday will have an opportunity to get updates from the city and provide immediate feedback.
The meeting begins at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at the Heritage Assembly of God Church Youth Center just off College Road in Baxter.
Family events are planned in Berrywood Park across from the youth center, weather permitting, or indoors at Heritage Assembly of God Church.
At 11 a.m. a lunch of hot dogs, chips and drinks will be served.
Presentations are planned on two feature topics - parks and trails now and for the future and a conservation overlay district initiative in southwest Baxter.
Todd Holman, Baxter City Council member, said the conservation district initiative was born of a desire to protect an area of the city. A biological survey identified the area as a strong and diverse representation of plants and animals. The area has wetlands and a largely intact forest system and runs along the Mississippi River with major flows connecting from the north and south.
In addition to the biological survey information, neighborhood meetings found residents also wanted to protect the area and keep a rural density rather than changing the landscape. The area in southwest Baxter overlaps with the threatened Blanding's turtle management area and the buffer zone around Camp Ripley.
Holman said with an interest established in protecting the area, the question resulted as to how the city could do it. One tool discussed is an overlay district similar to a shoreland district. Incentives in the district may promote conservation designs for more compact development to protect the land. Holman said the town meeting provides a chance to roll out the conservation district idea and tell residents more about it.
"We are trying to get people into the process of how do we implement this and how do we achieve this together," Holman said.
Beyond the featured presentations, residents will be able to meet with staff members from all city departments such as planning and zoning, public works and the police department. A fire truck is expected to be on display along with other events for children. Free child care will be provided on site during the meeting. Informational booths at the meeting are expected to include a variety of city organizations.
Holman said he hopes the compact meeting time and potentially cool and rainy weather - not favorable for yard work - will help as incentives to attend. Participants will be able to ask questions of the council or staff members and those who prefer may provide written comments, which the council will address at the end of the session.
Time has been set aside from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Saturday to sign in and mingle, followed by a welcome and introduction of the council and city commission members. The discussion on parks and trails is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. with the talk about southwest Baxter beginning at 10:15 a.m. Lunch, with many food items donated from area businesses, will be served at 11 a.m.
"I hope a lot of people come," Holman said. "You never know it might be our first warm day to try and rake leaves. I just hope people come out."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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