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Hillsboro completes strategic plan

Staff writer

A strategic plan for Hillsboro finally is complete 19 months after work on it began.

In January 2020, while Larry Paine was still city administrator, council members started discussing what they wanted the city to look like in 2026.

After Paine’s retirement in June 2020, and delays caused by COVID-19, council members, school superintendent Max Heinrichs, development director Anthony Roy, and city administrator Matt Stiles took the work up again early this year.

Top goals in the plan are:

  • Expand child care options.
  • Expand the city’s range of housing options.
  • Develop a pipeline of workers to support current and future businesses.
  • Invest in community development.
  • Protect the city’s financial well-being.
  • Provide high-quality facilities for public safety organizations.

A child care option would be providing the former Salem Hospital building, now owned by the city, for development as a child care facility. Mayor Lou Thurston said.

He said the city would need to get the building’s heating, air conditioning, and cooling up to speed and remove interior walls to allow for child care spaces.

Salem Home, which now operates in the former nursing home wing of the hospital, could provide food service for the child care, and a central courtyard could provide a safe play environment as well as an opportunity for children to interact with seniors.

The city completed a housing assessment last summer. It can apply for grants to offset development costs to add housing.

“We’re talking to a number of different people: some contractors who have put in some multi-unit housing in Sterling, and Mennonite housing,” Thurston said.

Thurston said the city needed the same types of housing available in larger cities — affordable housing for families with two working parents and for seniors who need accessible homes.

For work force development, the city plans to help Tabor College, the school district, and other educational providers collaborate. It plans to investigate opportunities for apprenticeships or paid tuition programs to encourage employee training and research opportunities to recruit workers from other groups such as immigrant populations.

The city’s goal is to increase its population by 0.05% per year. A community plaza project and adding other recreational facilities are designed to foster population growth.

Access to gigabit Internet speeds, is being completed by TC Wireless.

City planning documents are to be modernized, and city code is to be adjusted to promote better partnerships with businesses.

The plan to increase the city’s financial well-being is to use long-term planning and financial management tools. Planning work will begin this year and continue through 2026.

Public safety departments are to be located near one another.

Work already is under way on an emergency medical service building in Hillsboro.

The city plans to develop plans for a new public safety building for the fire department and police department. That would get the police department out of a dilapidated building and allow the fire department to store all its equipment in one location.

Last modified Sept. 30, 2021

 

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